“Two things are true and clear,” the South Bend, Indiana, mayor said. “One: Nobody is above the law. And two: The prosecutorial process should have nothing to do with politics. The less this has to do with the President, the better.”
Harris has said that she anticipates the Justice Department prosecuting Trump should she or any Democrat beat him in 2020.
Buttigieg argued that while Trump’s behavior would likely prompt legal prosecution on its own merits, the Justice Department, not the White House, should make that determination.
“Right now, we have a President who seems to think that the president can just dictate what the DOJ is going to do, call for political opponents to be jailed,” Buttigieg told Tapper. “I believe that the rule of law will catch up to this President. It doesn’t require the Oval Office putting any kind of thumb on the scale.”
He added: “I trust the DOJ to make the right determinations, at least the DOJ that I would appoint and set up. And the less that has to do with directives coming out of the White House, the better.”
When pressed on whether he disagreed with Harris, Buttigieg said he was “just speaking to how I view the issue.”
“But, again, I think we can maintain these two principles: that nobody is above the law, and that prosecution decisions should have nothing to do with politics and should come from the DOJ itself, not from the Oval,” he said.
While the comment appeared at odds with what the mayor told Tapper, the Atlantic later wrote in that same article that “Buttigieg said he’d be wary of actively directing his attorney general to pursue charges against the president.”
CNN’s Dan Merica and Eli Watkins contributed to this report.