Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) publicly contradicted President Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani today by explaining his belief of why a sitting president actually can be indicted for a crime by the Special Counsel investigating the Trump campaign and Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
“The president is not above the law, and an indictment — if that’s the course that Robert Mueller chooses to go — I believe would be upheld by the courts,” Blumenthal said on CNN today.
Giuliani, who joined Trump’s legal defense team last month, said earlier today that Mueller told him he could not indict a sitting president because of an opinion by the U.S. Justice Department that dates back to the presidency of Richard Nixon and was reaffirmed during the presidency of Bill Clinton.
Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein had been asked the same question at an event.
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“I’m not going to answer this in the context of any current matters, so you shouldn’t draw any inference about it,” Rosenstein previously said.
“But the Department of Justice has in the past, when the issue arose, has opined that a sitting President cannot be indicted,” continued Rosenstein. “There’s been a lot of speculation in the media about this, I just don’t have anything more to say about it.”
What Mueller can do is write a report referring the U.S. House of Representatives to bring impeachment or other charges based on the evidence the Special Counsel has uncovered.
Giuliani told CNN that Mueller told him he feels he must follow the guidance provided by the Justice Department.
If Mueller did issue a report and referral it is unlikely the current House, with a Republican majority, would act against Trump.
However, if this goes into 2019, and the Democrats win back control of the House, it could very likely lead to an impeachment action.
But Blumenthal, an attorney and former Attorney General of Connecticut, doesn’t agree with the Justice Department guidance.
He points out that the Justice Department has merely provided an opinion and the Supreme Court has never actually ruled on the matter.
“It’s an issue that has never been resolved, and that way there is a Department of Justice opinion to the contrary,” said Blumenthal. “I happen to think that he could be indicted even if the trial is postponed.”
This week marks the one year anniversary since Mueller began his work as Special Counsel, and Giuliani is pressing him to wrap up his investigation.
Mueller still wants to interview Trump, but Giuliani is insisting the Special Counsel has all the data and documents needed and doesn’t need to talk to Trump.
It is a big issue. For the Special Counsel to get a subpoena to talk to Trump or to ultimately bring serious charges against the president, he must make every effort, including seeking or getting an interview with Trump.
Trump lawyers argue that if Mueller can’t indict, he doesn’t need to talk to Trump since the only thing they can’t get from the documents is the president “state of mind.”
So if there is no indictment, they say, there is no need for an interview, which would then undermine any effort by Mueller to refer an impeachment case to the House.
That is the current stalemate but Blumenthal is insisting it is moot because Mueller can indict Trump while he is president.
It could end up before the Supreme Court yet – but the fact remains that Giuliani’s defense has some major holes in it. The president and his cronies should be very nervous indeed.