Rudy Giuliani; Donald Trump (AP/Getty/Salon)

Rudy Giuliani: Trump may use executive privilege to suppress the Mueller report

The president's lawyer says when special counsel Robert Mueller releases his report, Trump may suppress part of it


Matthew Rozsa
January 7, 2019 7:05PM (UTC)

President Donald Trump may try to block special counsel Robert Mueller's report from being released to the public, according to a new report.

Because Mueller may submit the results of his investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election to the Justice Department as soon as next month, Americans may soon find themselves following a fight between Democrats in the House of Representatives and Trump's Republican supporters over whether those findings should be made available to the public, according to Bloomberg.

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While the Trump administration has not confirmed that it will exert executive privilege in order to withhold part of Mueller's findings from the public, there are ample reasons to believe they would do so. For one thing, Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani has said that "we will look at it and see if the president thinks there is a valid claim and if there is, do we want to make it. We reserve the right. We don’t know if we have to, but we haven’t waived it." In addition, there is the fact that the White House turned over tens of thousands of pages of records to Mueller's investigators instead of allowing them to be subpoenaed, a decision most likely motivated by the fact that a subpoena would have made it impossible for Trump to prevent them from being publicly released.

Technically speaking, Mueller is only able to turn over his report to the relevant department head, in this case the Justice Department. That said, House Democrats have already made it clear that they plan on insisting that the Justice Department provide them with a copy of the report, which they would intend to make public.

Bloomberg elaborated on the perspective of John Dean, the famous whistleblower from Watergate:

John Dean, who was White House counsel to President Richard Nixon -- and became a witness against him in the Watergate scandal -- said it would be an “absurd” legal strategy for the White House to claim executive privilege after having turned over material to Mueller.

Still, Dean said it could be a successful “stalling tactic” that could “tie it up in the lower courts for a couple of years.”

The underlying question of the Trump-Russia investigation, of course, is whether Trump broke the law by colluding with the Russian government in order to win his election campaign against Hillary Clinton. Last month Salon spoke with former CIA officer David Priess about how severe Trump's criminal culpability would have to be in order for him to be removed.

"Number one, a president should not and has not been impeached merely because they are unpopular," Priess told Salon. "It's always because there's a perception that they are fundamentally unfit for the office. Matching that up with the language of the constitution, that means that opponents are trying to find evidence of treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors as amorphous as that is, but it's got to be that they are actually harming the fabric of the constitution and the country itself. That in and of itself has never been enough. It's never been enough to show that the president is unfit for office."


Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a breaking news writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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