WEATHER AUTHORITY : Heat Advisory View Alerts

Giuliani: Mueller's team told Trump's lawyers they can't indict a president

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has informed President Donald Trump's attorneys that they have concluded that t...

Posted: May 17, 2018 8:29 AM
Updated: May 17, 2018 8:29 AM

Special counsel Robert Mueller's team has informed President Donald Trump's attorneys that they have concluded that they cannot indict a sitting president, according to the President's lawyer.

"All they get to do is write a report," Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told CNN. "They can't indict. At least they acknowledged that to us after some battling, they acknowledged that to us."

That conclusion is likely based on longstanding Justice Department guidelines. It is not about any assessment of the evidence Mueller's team has compiled.

A lack of an indictment would not necessarily mean the President is in the clear. Mueller could issue a report making referrals or recommendations to the House of Representatives.

The inability to indict a sitting president has been the position of the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department since the Nixon administration and reaffirmed in the Clinton administration, but it has never been tested in court.

It had been an open question whether, if investigators found potentially criminal evidence against Trump, Mueller's team would try to challenge those Justice Department guidelines.

CNN reached out to Mueller's team. They declined to comment.

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein publicly discussed the issue earlier this month at an event held by the Freedom Forum Institute. He was asked if a sitting president can 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," Rosenstein said. "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.

Giuliani tells CNN the special counsel's team has decided that "they have to follow the Justice Department rules."

"The Justice Department memos going back to before Nixon say that you cannot indict a sitting president, you have to impeach him. 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," Giuliani said.

"We think it's bigger than that. We think it's a constitutional rule, but I don't think you're ever going to confront that because nobody's ever going to indict a sitting president. So, what does that leave them with? That leaves them with writing a report," said Giuliani.

It would then be up to the House of Representatives to decide what to do about with the special counsel's report -- and whether to pursue articles of impeachment.

Giuliani also said that he is using the one-year anniversary of the Mueller probe, which is Thursday, to push the special counsel to disclose how much money is being spent, and to actively begin negotiating with Trump's legal team over any Trump interview Mueller is seeking.

"Do you really need an interview?" Giuliani said he wants Mueller's team to answer.

"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."

The legal team put the question of indictment directly to Mueller -- and they were not surprised by his answer -- as part of a strategy to deal with the issue of a subpoena to the President should he decide not to testify, according to a source familiar with the Trump legal team's thinking.

The reason it's important, this source said, is that under their view of the law the special counsel's team would have to show they need the President's testimony to investigate a crime of great significance. The President's team would then argue that if you can't indict the President for a charge like obstruction, then there is "no crime to justify the subpoena."

Since questions about obstruction involve asking about the President's state of mind, his legal team would ask why those questions are warranted if he can't be prosecuted.

The President's legal team believes that in order to justify an interview, then it has to be his crime and not somebody else's, this source said.

In addition, the source said the Mueller team would also have to make the case they can't get the information anywhere else and Trump's legal team would argue that Mueller's team has millions of documents and enough information.

Update: This story has been updated with more detail about why Trump's legal team posed the indictment question to Mueller.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 343505

Reported Deaths: 7543
CountyCasesDeaths
Hinds23932444
DeSoto23229283
Harrison20527329
Rankin15411291
Jackson15232252
Madison10959227
Lee10719179
Jones9047169
Forrest8723159
Lauderdale7884244
Lowndes7054151
Lamar702989
Lafayette6548124
Washington5595139
Pearl River5196152
Bolivar4954134
Oktibbeha494398
Panola4771112
Warren4728128
Marshall4701106
Pontotoc447773
Union433279
Monroe4330137
Neshoba4281181
Hancock428088
Lincoln4176116
Pike3667113
Leflore3627125
Tate353388
Alcorn350974
Sunflower347694
Scott341176
Adams340988
Yazoo339376
Copiah324968
Simpson322891
Itawamba314680
Coahoma314085
Tippah306568
Prentiss298863
Covington293484
Leake285475
Marion284181
Wayne277543
George272251
Grenada269488
Newton262364
Tishomingo239770
Winston236784
Jasper230648
Stone229637
Attala226373
Chickasaw219060
Holmes200174
Clay197654
Clarke186880
Tallahatchie183742
Calhoun181332
Smith179235
Yalobusha171540
Walthall145748
Lawrence142826
Greene140134
Amite137543
Noxubee135235
Perry133538
Montgomery133044
Carroll126431
Webster121232
Jefferson Davis116734
Tunica114227
Benton106725
Claiborne105331
Kemper102429
Humphreys100133
Franklin87923
Quitman84719
Choctaw82619
Wilkinson78032
Jefferson71328
Sharkey51618
Issaquena1736
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 585607

Reported Deaths: 11536
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson851431591
Mobile48584864
Madison37411533
Shelby27192257
Tuscaloosa27145465
Montgomery26119627
Baldwin25207329
Lee17184181
Calhoun15382334
Morgan15147291
Etowah14928370
Marshall13079235
Houston12021293
Elmore10890219
St. Clair10737252
Limestone10699158
Cullman10503205
Lauderdale10240254
DeKalb9498192
Talladega8935188
Walker7775288
Autauga7537114
Jackson7384117
Blount7352139
Colbert6691142
Coffee6342132
Dale5605117
Russell478943
Chilton4763117
Covington4738125
Franklin456681
Tallapoosa4511156
Escambia439283
Chambers3936125
Dallas3742163
Clarke370563
Marion3455107
Pike332079
Lawrence3257100
Winston298373
Bibb289765
Geneva282883
Marengo262267
Barbour250661
Pickens245262
Butler240172
Hale235178
Fayette226765
Henry212845
Monroe201541
Randolph200344
Cherokee198848
Washington184339
Macon169752
Crenshaw167758
Clay165659
Cleburne161145
Lamar150938
Lowndes145355
Wilcox132331
Bullock126542
Conecuh120632
Coosa118129
Perry110328
Sumter110333
Greene99137
Choctaw64425
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 89° Lo: 78°
Feels Like: 82°
Columbus
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 95° Lo: 76°
Feels Like: 78°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 76°
Feels Like: 82°
Starkville
Clear
77° wxIcon
Hi: 93° Lo: 76°
Feels Like: 78°
Sunday heat and humidity look likely to return once again, but Sunday will also mark the beginning of a transition to cooler and slightly less humid weather ahead.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather