Rudy Giuliani said Thursday that he has been told by special counsel Robert Mueller’s team that it does not have the authority to indict President Donald Trump, continuing the pressure campaign Trump’s allies and legal team have been pushing for months.
“I asked him specifically if they realized or acknowledged they didn’t have the power to indict. Both under the justice department memo, which gives them their power, in essence confines their power, and under the constitution,” Trump attorney Giuliani told Fox News’ “Fox & Friends.” “One of his assistants said they acknowledged they had to be bound by justice department policies. Then the next day or the day after, they clarified it for [Trump attorney] Jay Sekulow who was with me at the meeting that they didn’t have the power to indict.”
Giuliani added that Mueller’s team told him the investigation would eventually produce a “memorandum and it to the deputy attorney general,” who is overseeing the probe with the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from all matters related to the 2016 campaign.
Mueller’s office declined to comment on whether it could indict the president.
Thursday marks one year since Mueller’s appointment by deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, a probe that has bedeviled the president through the majority of his time in office and one he has derided loudly and often as a “witch hunt.” While Trump’s legal team has repeatedly shuffled its membership, it has consistently called for a swift end to Mueller’s probe, as have other Trump allies.
Despite those calls, Mueller’s team has shown no outward signs of wrapping up. And while Trump has said publicly that he would like to sit for an interview with Mueller’s team, whether he will actually do so remains an open question. Giuliani said Thursday that such an interview remains possible but that Mueller’s team would need to tell the president’s why an interview would be necessary. He has previously said that the scope and length of a possible Trump interview with Mueller would need to be limited.
Giuliani said he did not believe Mueller’s team can subpoena the president and require him to speak to investigators.
“We are pretty comfortable that in the circumstances of this case, they wouldn’t be able to subpoena him personally,” the president’s lawyer said. “They can’t require to you testify in what would be your own case because, after all, it’s all about a possible impeachment. Impeachment has to come before indictment. And that’s a law not just in the United States, that’s the law that governs for most heads of state in the world.”
Giuliani also complained Thursday about a report from the New York Times revealing that at least one government informant spoke to former Trump campaign officials Carter Page and George Papadopoulos during the FBI’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 election. The president’s attorney accused the Justice Department of putting “a spy in the campaign of a major-party candidate” and said his team would look to challenge the entire Mueller investigation as a result.
The president, too, weighed in on the informant story, calling it “bigger than Watergate,” a reference to the scandal that prompted the resignation of former President Richard Nixon.
“Wow, word seems to be coming out that the Obama FBI ‘SPIED ON THE TRUMP CAMPAIGN WITH AN EMBEDDED INFORMANT,’” Trump wrote, referencing a National Review article. “Andrew McCarthy says, ‘There’s probably no doubt that they had at least one confidential informant in the campaign.’ If so, this is bigger than Watergate!”
Darren Samuelsohn contributed to this story.