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16 May, 2018 23:00

‘They can’t indict Trump’: Giuliani says Mueller ‘understands’ he can’t charge sitting president

‘They can’t indict Trump’: Giuliani says Mueller ‘understands’ he can’t charge sitting president

Special counsel Robert Mueller has acknowledged to President Donald Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani that a sitting president can’t be indicted under current rules, meaning that the year-long Russia probe is unlikely to unseat Trump.

"The Justice Department memos going back to before Nixon say that you cannot indict a sitting president, you have to impeach him,” Giuliani told CNN on Wednesday. “They acknowledged to us orally that they understand that they can't violate the Justice Department rules.”

“So, what does that leave them with? That leaves them with writing a report,” said the former New York City mayor, who recently took over representing Trump in the special counsel probe. “They can't indict. At least they acknowledged that to us after some battling.”

Mueller’s team has declined to comment on Giuliani’s statements to CNN.

The news comes ahead of the anniversary of Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, which followed Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey in May 2017.

Trump’s official explanation for firing Comey invoked a memo from Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein accusing the FBI director of misconduct in the 2016 investigation of Hillary Clinton’s private email server use. Though Democrats had previously vilified Comey as a partial culprit for Clinton’s defeat in the 2016 presidential election, they rushed to the sacked FBI chief’s defense.

Trump, they said, was attempting to obstruct justice by firing Comey over the FBI’s investigation into alleged “collusion” between the president and Russia. Comey leaked to the press that he had kept memoranda about his meetings with Trump, a move he admitted to Congress was intended to provoke the appointment of a special counsel.

Rosenstein’s appointment of Mueller raised eyebrows, as the former FBI chief (2001-2013) is a friend of Comey’s. The special prosecutor also came under fire for staffing his probe almost entirely with Democrats. Attorney General Jeff Sessions had recused himself from any investigations of the Trump campaign, due to potential conflicts of interest.

Over the course of the year-long probe, Mueller has indicted five Americans, one British citizen, 13 Russians and three Russian companies. None of the charges had anything to do with collusion, however; Trump’s one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort was charged over his lobbying activities in Ukraine years ago, earning Mueller a reprimand from a federal judge.

Manafort’s business partner Rick Gates pleaded guilty in order to spare his family financial ruin and further public humiliation. The mounting legal costs apparently also pressured Trump adviser Michael Flynn to plead guilty to lying to the FBI, though the recent House Intelligence Committee report appears to contradict that.

Concord Management and Consulting, one of the Russian companies Mueller indicted, said in a court filing this week that the charges amounted to a “make-believe crime” and that Mueller was trying to “justify his own existence” and “indict a Russian ‒ any Russian” for political reasons.

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