Can a former president be indicted? An AJC podcast explored the historic record

Credit: AP file

Credit: AP file

The case against Donald Trump is a first. Listen as the Breakdown podcast examines past criminal cases involving commanders in chief

One sitting president was placed under arrest for speeding. Two former presidents worried about being indicted, one from an investigation arising from the Watergate scandal, the other from the Whitewater controversy.

In the current season of the Breakdown podcast − which explores the Fulton County grand jury’s probe of Donald Trump – The Atlanta Journal-Constitution examined past criminal cases involving presidents and vice presidents. The episode, “One for the History Books,” was published in July 2022.

On Thursday, a grand jury in Manhattan indicted Trump, according to multiple news outlets. In Atlanta, District Attorney Fani Wllis is weighing whether to pursue criminal charges related to efforts by the former president and his allies to meddle in the 2020 election.

In Episode six, Breakdown looked at cases involving Presidents Ulysses S. Grant, Richard Nixon and Bill Clinton as well as the criminal prosecutions of Vice Presidents Aaron Burr and Spiro Agnew.

“We have never seen a case like this in Georgia before. But this is not the first time a member of the executive branch has been in legal trouble,” AJC reporter Tamar Hallerman said. ”We’ll look at how more than 200 years of case law will come into play in this proceeding.”

The podcast tells the story of President Thomas Jefferson’s showdown with his vice president, Aaron Burr. A ruling from then Chief Justice John Marshall, allowing Burr to subpoena some of Jefferson’s papers, was cited by current Chief Justice John Roberts in connection with the Manhattan DA’s probe of Trump, AJC reporter Bill Rankin said.

The AJC podcast also recounts the time Grant was stopped for speeding in a horse-drawn carriage a few blocks from the White House.

You can download the Breakdown podcast from Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts, Stitcher or your favorite podcasting platform. You can also stream it on your computer from