We’re talking about federal immunity, which can be one-off (proffer letter), a deal between the government and a witness (letter), or judge-granted (statutory). These gents presumably received letter immunity, which means prosecutors decided what they had to say about Cohen was worth not using it against them. It’s a strong variety of immunity, sometimes called “blanket immunity.” But it has limits.
You’re granted immunity with respect to what you disclose—and only what you disclose. Neither your testimony nor evidence that derives from it can be used against you, but you can still be prosecuted for unrelated charges, things you said nothing about. An immunized witness can even still face related charges if prosecutors can build a case independent of the information a witness provided on the condition of immunity, though it’s an ethically dodgy move.
The strained relationship between President TrumpDonald John TrumpAustralian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull ousted by party rivals CNN’s Cuomo clashes with Kellyanne Conway over Cohen hush-money payments Lawmaker who pushed to impeach Nixon: Trump ‘systematically’ abusing power MORE and Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsLawmaker who pushed to impeach Nixon: Trump ‘systematically’ abusing power Corker: Sessions ‘owns’ Trump until he’s fired Grassley: Trump will tackle prison reform ‘soon after’ the midterms MORE may have finally reached its breaking point.
For more than a year, Trump has chided Sessions for his decision to recuse himself from the Russia investigation.
Sources close to the White House and Justice Department said they sensed the dynamic shift after former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen this week implicated the president in an illegal hush-money scheme shortly before the 2016 election.
DOJ officials have grown used to Trump’s attacks on Twitter, but Ian Prior, who until recently served as a spokesman under Sessions, said the highly public nature of the president’s latest barb prompted the attorney general to “stand up” for the rank-and-file employees he leads.
“The tweets are one thing, they’re kind of in their own universe,” Prior told The Hill. “When it’s an interview on national television questioning the effectiveness or integrity of the Department of Justice, it’s a different animal altogether.”