So says the New York Times: Does Robert Mueller believe he has the legal authority to indict Donald J. Trump?
According to Rudy Giuliani, Mueller has told the Trump legal team that he feels he cannot indict Trump. For reasons only the gods can explain, three reporters at the New York Times are acting as if they sgould simply assume that Giuliani's claims must be true.
We know—that sounds quite strange. Giuliani has seemed to make many odd statements of late. It has been widely noted that he isn't the world's most reliable source.
Still, in this morning's news report, three reporters treat his latest proclamations as gospel. Below, you see the passage in question. This strikes us as very strange:
SCHMIDT, HABERMAN AND SAVAGE (5/17/18): [T]he question of whether the president can be indicted is unsettled. Many legal experts and current and former Justice Department officials believed that Mr. Mueller would follow the conclusions of Justice Department lawyers, who argued during both the Nixon and Clinton administrations that an indictment would interfere with the president’s constitutional responsibilities and powers to run the executive branch.According to Giuliani, one member of Mueller's team told him, Giuliani, that Trump could not be indicted. Also according to Giuliani, Mueller's office telephoned Jay Sekulow a few days later to deliver the same message.
Mr. Trump’s lead lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, said the special counsel’s office displayed uncertainty about whether Mr. Trump could be indicted. “When I met with Mueller’s team, they seemed to be in a little bit of confusion about whether they could indict,” Mr. Giuliani said. “We said, ‘It’s pretty clear that you have to follow D.O.J. policy.’”
Mr. Giuliani said that one member of Mr. Mueller’s office acknowledged that the president could not be indicted. Two or three days later, Mr. Giuliani said, Mr. Mueller’s office called another of the president’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, to say that prosecutors would adhere to the Justice Department view.
“They can’t indict,” Mr. Giuliani said. “They can’t indict. Because if they did, it would be dismissed quickly. There’s no precedent for a president being indicted.”
Given Giuliani's erratic behavior in recent years and his weird remarks of the past few weeks, it's hard to know why anyone would accept such claims as dispositive. But this is the peculiar way The New York Times Trio continued:
SCHMIDT, HABERMAN AND SAVAGE (continuing directly): It is not clear why Mr. Mueller has decided that he will not seek Mr. Trump’s indictment. A spokesman for the special counsel declined to offer clarity about the assertions of Mr. Giuliani, who since being hired last month by Mr. Trump has repeatedly made statements that were later clarified. In his most notable misstep, he mischaracterized how payments were made by Mr. Trump’s longtime personal lawyer, Michael D. Cohen, to a pornographic film actress who has said she had sex with Mr. Trump. The president has denied her accusation.In the highlighted statement, the reporters treat Giuliani's claims as if they were dispositive. Weirdly, they then offer a list of reasons why his claims shouldn't be so regarded.
This odd report was written by three of the New York Times' heaviest hitters. Is any other newspaper quite as strange as the glorious Times?
Also this: The passages we've posted come from the middle of today's news report. The first two paragraphs of the report are rather puzzling too:
SCHMIDT, HABERMAN AND SAVAGE (5/17/18): The special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, will not indict President Trump if he finds wrongdoing in his investigation of Trump campaign links to Russia, according to the president’s lawyers. They said Wednesday that Mr. Mueller’s investigators told them that he would adhere to the Justice Department’s view that the Constitution bars prosecuting sitting presidents.In their opening sentence, the reporters say that Mueller will not indict Trump according to Trump's lawyers.
The disclosure provides the greatest clarity to date about how Mr. Mueller, who is also investigating whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry itself, may proceed. If he concludes that he has evidence that the president broke the law, experts say, he now has only two main options while Mr. Trump remains in office: He could write a report about the president’s conduct that Congress might use as part of any impeachment proceedings, or he could deem the president as an unindicted co-conspirator in court documents.
They then refer to this assertion as a "disclosure" and treat it as a settled point. Of course, if we're all still speaking English, the assertion only becomes a "disclosure" if the assertion is actually true. And where's the proof of that?
Please note: the reporters also make it sound like they're sourcing their own assertions to more than one Trump lawyer. They aren't! As the report unfolds, they quote Giuliani alone; they quote no one else. (There is no sign that they spoke to Sekulow themselves.)
Giuliani's statements could be true, of course. But especially given their later statements about his erratic behavior, why did these nitwits believe him?
Only the Times behaves this way. Does anyone know why it does?