Is the special counsel probe all over but the shouting? At least according to Rudy Giuliani, the answer is yes. He’s been hinting for days that Robert Mueller might decide to just issue a report and close up shop, but Giuliani went a little farther than that with Fox News today. He flat-out stated that Mueller’s team had decided to abide by a 1999 DoJ finding that a sitting president cannot be indicted.
Once again, let’s emphasize … according to Rudy:
President Trump’s attorney, Rudy Giuliani, told Fox News on Wednesday that special counsel Robert Mueller has told the president’s legal team he will follow Justice Department guidance and not seek an indictment against Trump.
Giuliani, himself a former federal prosecutor and mayor of New York City, also told Fox News that Mueller’s investigators have not responded to five information requests from the president’s team. That has forced Trump’s legal team to push off making a decision about whether the president will sit for an interview with the special counsel — a decision they had hoped to reach by Thursday.
The precedent that federal prosecutors cannot indict a sitting president is laid out in a 1999 Justice Department memo. Giuliani told Fox News that Mueller has no choice but to follow its guidance.
“This case is essentially over,” Giuliani said. “They’re just in denial.”
If you haven’t yet read Allahpundit’s post from Monday on this topic, now would be a good time to catch up. Giuliani has spent the last few days dropping hints about this alleged decision by the special counsel, but not being anywhere this definitive. The Associated Press read between these lines a couple of days ago, but according to Fox News, Giuliani’s now saying it explicitly.
But what does it mean that Team Mueller is “in denial”? That doesn’t sound at all like the special counsel is preparing a document that will clear Trump, or that the case is actually over rather than “essentially over.” Giuliani’s a defense attorney in this case, which means it’s his job to minimize a prosecution case in any way he can. Accusing them of being “in denial” sounds like there may well be something to minimize, more so than “they’re just wrapping up the last details and performing due diligence” would sound. Or at least it sounds as though they’ve told Giuliani that.
Let’s game this out a little further, assuming Giuliani’s accurately passing along what he’s been told by the special counsel. If Mueller believes he’s constrained from seeking an indictment, that doesn’t mean that he hasn’t found indictable actions. If he reports such to Congress, it will heighten pressure on the House to act in some regard to any If they haven’t found any indictable actions, then their report is going to be one of the biggest political anti-climaxes since, well … the last special counsel investigation.
However, as Allahpundit also noted, the president isn’t the only person who could get indicted. If Mueller doesn’t return any indictments on the core issue of Russian collusion, then that report will be another Fitzmas. If, however, Mueller indicts one or more key figures for misconduct related to that core issue, the lack of an indictment on Trump may not help him much politically — and it could breathe new life into La Résistance for the midterms.
And … perhaps we need to wait until Mueller and his team embrace that 1999 guidance a little more publicly, too.
Addendum: The grand jury docket doesn’t indicate that Mueller’s wrapping things up soon:
U.S. Justice Department Special Counsel Robert Mueller has issued two subpoenas to a social media expert who worked for longtime Donald Trump adviser Roger Stone during the 2016 presidential election campaign.
The subpoenas were delivered late last week to lawyers representing Jason Sullivan, a social media and Twitter specialist Stone hired to work for an independent political action committee he set up to support Trump, Knut Johnson, a lawyer for Sullivan, told Reuters on Tuesday.
The subpoenas suggest that Mueller, who is probing Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, is focusing in part on Stone and whether he might have had advance knowledge of material allegedly hacked by Russian intelligence and sent to WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who published it.
This may raise questions as to who exactly is in denial.
Update: CBS’ Paula Reid heard the same thing from Giuliani, who added that Rod Rosenstein will too.
"There is currently an opinion at the Justice Dept. that says you cannot criminally indict a sitting president. And Giuliani says that [special counsel] Mueller has told him that he will abide by that opinion," @PaulaReidCBS reports. https://t.co/yypUIpMl6Y pic.twitter.com/EIdyf3ylYT
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 16, 2018