Special counsel Robert Mueller said he will not indict Donald Trump after concluding he lacks the power to do so, according to the president’s attorney.
Rudy Giuliani told multiple news outlets that Mr Mueller’s team had conveyed it would follow Justice Department guidelines that bar prosecutors from indicting a sitting president.
“They can’t indict. At least they acknowledged that to us after some battling”, Mr Giuliani told CNN.
The directive laying out the scope of Mr Mueller’s investigation gives his team broad leeway to dig into both any links or coordination between the Trump campaign and Russia, in addition to other matters that turn up in the course of the inquiry.
But precedent established during Richard Nixon’s administration dictates that Mr Mueller would not have the authority to indict Mr Trump.
During a forum last month, deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein – who oversees Mr Mueller’s probe – reiterated that policy without comments specifically on the current investigation.
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“The Department of Justice has in the past, when the issue arose, opined that a sitting President cannot be indicted”, Mr Rosenstein said. “There’s been a lot of speculation in the media about this, I just don’t have anything more to say about it”.
After indicting multiple aides to Mr Trump, the special counsel’s team has turned its attention to a potential interview with the president – a source of intense debate within his legal team.
Mr Giuliani, the former mayor of New York and combative campaign surrogate for Mr Trump, formerly signed on to provide counsel.
Former lead attorney John Dowd had resigned shortly before, saying he had unsuccessfully urged Mr Trump to reject a sit-down with Mr Mueller’s team.
The president has rejected Mr Mueller’s investigation as a partisan farce and repeatedly stated that his campaign did not collude with the Kremlin.