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Professor Bowman Publishes Op-Ed on the Effectiveness of State Officials Investigating the President

August 8th, 2017

Prof. Frank Bowman

In an op-ed for Slate, Professor Frank Bowman argues that state officials cannot function effectively as “stand-in special prosecutors” of a president or his administration.

Other articles published in the news have suggested that, if special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation is shut down, state attorneys general could step up and continue the investigation. In response to these articles, Professor Bowman examines the jurisdiction of state attorneys general and the tools available to them to carry out an investigation against President Trump and his administration.

“State AGs are not without teeth,” he concludes, “but their jurisdiction is narrow and their powers constrained by geography, the peculiarities of state law, and limitations imposed by their position in the federal scheme.”

Moreover, Professor Bowman cautions against state attorneys general pursuing an open-ended criminal or civil inquiry into President Trump’s personal affairs, absent real and specific grounds to believe that he has violated a state law.

He writes, “Central to the rule of law is the principle that prosecutors may not employ their inquisitorial arsenal against political adversaries. The ethos of prosecutorial restraint protects us all.”

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