Attorneys caught up in Russia probe worry Trump can, and will, be indicted


If the case against Trump goes to the courts, his Republican protecters in Congress won't be able to save him.

Clearly trying to build blind political support in advance of any damning information special counsel Robert Mueller uncovers during his Russia and obstruction of justice probe, the Trump White House seems to be banking on the scandal being dealt with in Congress, and not by judges and juries.

But according to attorneys who are representing clients caught up in the widening probe, there's a strong chance Mueller could end up indicting Trump and taking the whole case to court.

"If I were a betting man, I’d bet against the president,” one of the lawyers tells Politico.

Another attorney suggested Mueller could bring indictments against Trump, knowing the approach would certainly be challenged as being out of bounds, simply to signal how grave the wrongdoings committed by Trump and his associates have been.

“It’s entirely possible that Mueller may go that route on the theory that, as an open question, it should be for the courts to decide,” the attorney said. “Even if the indictment is dismissed, it puts maximum pressure on Congress to treat this with the independence and intellectual honesty that it will never, ever get."

The general political and media consensus in recent months has centered on the idea that Mueller's findings will not be dealt with in the courts but in Congress, and in the House specifically.

In other words, the battle over the Russia and obstruction of justice probe will be a political one, not a legal one, and Trump will be able to lean on Republican allies in Congress to defend him, no matter how damning evidence of his wrongdoing might be. (That effort was dealt a stinging blow on Friday, when the GOP's much-hyped memo, designed to ding the FBI, was widely met with shrugs and laughter.)

The courts have never settled the question of whether a sitting U.S. president can be indicted. The Department of Justice in 1973 and again in 2000, amidst Watergate and following the impeachment proceedings against Bill Clinton, concluded presidents could not be indicted because the disruption to the political system would be too grave.

But no court has ever been asked to rule on the matter. If Mueller did indict Trump, the Supreme Court would almost certainly decide the case.

Meanwhile, Trump's attorneys seem panicked by the idea that their client will have to answer questions directly to Mueller. Even though Trump insists publicly that he has nothing to hide and would "love" to testify, his legal team continues to scramble in search of a way to protect Trump from perjuring himself.

Note that if the case against Trump does end up in the courts, Trump's political support would be useless. Instead, the facts and the law would dictate the outcome.