President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team has concluded they cannot indict a sitting president.
“All they get to do is write a report,” Mr. Giuliani told CNN. “They can’t indict. At least they acknowledged that to us after some battling, they acknowledged that to us.”
Mr. Mueller’s power to indict the president has been hotly debated since the investigation started last year. It appears that Justice Department guidelines limit the special counsel to issue a report or make a referral to Congress.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who oversees the special counsel investigation, publicly said last month a sitting president cannot be indicted.
“I’m not going to answer this in the context of any current matters, so you shouldn’t draw any inference about it,” Mr. Rosenstein said speaking an event by the Freedom Forum Institute. “But the Department of Justice has in the past, when the issue arose, has opined that a sitting President cannot be indicted. There’s been a lot of speculation in the media about this, I just don’t have anything more to say about it.” Rosenstein oversees the special counsel probe.
Mr. Giuliani told CNN the Justice Department has barred the indictment of a sitting president since before Watergate. Although the issue was pondered during previous special counsel probes of the Nixon and Clinton administrations, it has never faced legal scrutiny in court.
“The Justice Department memos going back to before Nixon say that you cannot indict a sitting president, you have to impeach him,” Mr. Giuliani said. “Now there was a little time in which there was some dispute about that, but they acknowledged to us orally that they understand that they can’t violate the Justice Department rules.”
The former New York City mayor added that if criminal evidence is found against Mr. Trump, the special counsel would have to submit a report of his findings to Congress. It would then be up to the House of Representatives on whether they want to pursue impeachment.
Mr. Giuliani also said that he is pushing to avoid having the president face questions from the special counsel team.
“Do you really need an interview?” Giuliani said he would ask Mr. Mueller.
“You’ve got all the facts. You’ve got all the documents. You’ve got all the explanations. We’re happy to tell you they’re not going to change.”
• Jeff Mordock can be reached at email@example.com.
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