WASHINGTON — 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 presidents.
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 enough evidence that the president broke the law, legal experts say, he now has only two main options: He could write a report about the president’s conduct that Congress might use as part of any impeachment proceedings, or he could list the president as an unindicted co-conspirator in court documents.
Mr. Mueller’s stance could serve as political relief for Mr. Trump, whose presidency has been under the cloud of the investigation. Mr. Trump has repeatedly called it a “witch hunt.”
But the question of whether the president can be indicted is an unsettled legal issue. 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.
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 guidelines.
“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.”