‘Trump can­not be in­dicted’

Gi­u­liani: Mueller’s team can only file re­port on probe find­ings

The Star Malaysia - - World -

WASHINGTON: Spe­cial Coun­sel Robert Mueller’s team has told the White House that what­ever ev­i­dence it comes up with in the Rus­sian med­dling probe, it can­not in­dict Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, ac­cord­ing to Trump lawyer Rudy Gi­u­liani.

Gi­u­liani told CNN and Fox News on Wed­nes­day that Mueller’s team had ac­cepted a long­stand­ing, though never tested Jus­tice De­part­ment le­gal in­ter­pre­ta­tion that a sit­ting pres­i­dent is im­mune from in­dict­ment.

“All they get to do is write a re­port,” Gi­u­liani told CNN. “They can’t in­dict. At least they ac­knowl­edged that to us, af­ter some bat­tling, they ac­knowl­edged that to us.”

Mueller’s spokesman Peter Carr re­fused to com­ment on Gi­u­liani’s re­marks, which came on the eve of the one-year an­niver­sary of Mueller’s ap­point­ment in charge of the probe into pos­si­ble links be­tween the Trump cam­paign and Rus­sia.

If cor­rect, it would only con­firm wide­spread be­lief in the le­gal com­mu­nity that the pres­i­dent is pro­tected from in­dict­ment while in of­fice.

As Gi­u­liani said, if Mueller does find wrong­do­ing by the pres­i­dent, he is con­fined to sub­mit­ting a re­port to the Jus­tice De­part­ment.

But that re­port, and the ev­i­dence be­hind it, could serve as the ba­sis for im­peach­ment of the pres­i­dent in Congress.

Mueller’s probe has al­ready in­dicted 19 peo­ple, in­clud­ing top Trump cam­paign of­fi­cials.

No one knows whether Mueller’s team has any strong ev­i­dence of col­lu­sion with the Rus­sians, or of Trump ac­tively ob­struct­ing the in­ves­ti­ga­tion, an­other ev­i­dent thrust of Mueller’s probe.

The spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor, a for­mer FBI di­rec­tor, has for months been in talks with Trump’s le­gal team over whether the pres­i­dent would agree to be in­ter­viewed, as have at least 20 other White House of­fi­cials and 28 Trump cam­paign work­ers.

“We’re de­mand­ing from him – tell us what you have to get from an in­ter­view that you don’t al­ready have. Be­cause he has all the facts to make a de­ci­sion,” Gi­u­liani said later on Fox News’ The In­gra­ham An­gle.

“There would be a nar­row area where we might agree if they could tell us why they need it.”

If Trump re­fuses an in­ter­view, Mueller could be forced to is­sue a sub­poena to force him to tes­tify, which could spark a le­gal bat­tle of its own.

Gi­u­liani, on a me­dia blitz since join­ing Trump’s le­gal team a month ago, said the year-old Mueller probe should be ready to wrap up.

“If you’re go­ing to write a fair re­port, fine, write it. If you’re go­ing to write an un­fair re­port, write it and we will combat it,” he said on the Fox News pro­gramme.

“We’re ready to rip it apart, and we’re ready to rip them apart, if that’s what they want.

“We would rather peace­fully set­tle this and get it over with.”

Although the prece­dent of the 1970s Water­gate case says that pres­i­den­tial records can be sub­poe­naed, some schol­ars say that prece­dent might not ex­tend to forc­ing the pres­i­dent him­self to tes­tify.

If there is a bat­tle over the is­sue, it would likely end up in the Supreme Court. — AFP

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