Special Counsel Robert Mueller isn’t stopping with his investigation until he unravels the whole truth, but he has certainly been met with some resistance. Mueller has already indicted four key people – former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Manafort’s assistant Rick Gates, former White House foreign policy adviser George Papadopoulos who pled guilty, and former national security adviser Michael Flynn who also pled guilty on charges of lying to the FBI.
Near the end of January, Mueller questioned Attorney General Jeff Sessions for hours on end in relation to the Russia probe. Now, it seems that Mueller is finally climbing about as high as he can go – up to Mr. Trump himself. Mueller wants to interview Trump, but his lawyers are advising him to do otherwise.
According to The New York Times:
‘Lawyers for President Trump have advised him against sitting down for a wide-ranging interview with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to four people briefed on the matter, raising the specter of a monthslong court battle over whether the president must answer questions under oath.’
— All In w/Chris Hayes (@allinwithchris) February 6, 2018
The reason, which is a fairly obvious one, is that Trump’s lawyers are worried that he would end up being charged with lying to FBI investigators. Given Trump’s never-ending history of making false statements and contradictions on a regular basis, this would not be surprising.
The Times reports:
‘Their stance puts them at odds with Mr. Trump, who has said publicly and privately that he is eager to speak with Mr. Mueller as part of the investigation into possible ties between his associates and Russia’s election interference, and whether he obstructed justice.’
Trump is expected to make his decision about whether he will speak to Mueller’s team in the coming weeks. The danger of Mr. Trump not agreeing to be interviewed by Mueller and his team is that he very well could be subpoenaed by Mueller to testify before a grand jury. This may set up a court fight that would not only escalate the investigation, but eventually end up in the Supreme Court.
The Times also reported:
‘Rejecting an interview with Mr. Mueller also carries political consequences. It would be certain to prompt accusations that the president is hiding something, and a court fight could prolong the special counsel inquiry, casting a shadow over Republicans as November’s midterm elections approach or beyond into the president’s reelection campaign.’
However, Trump’s lawyer John Dowd wants to rebuff the interview request, as do Dowd’s deputy Jay Sekulow and many West Wing advisers. According to The Times:
‘The lawyers and aides believe the special counsel might be unwilling to subpoena the president and set off a showdown with the White House that Mr. Mueller could lose in court.’
On the other hand, White House lawyer Ty Cobb is arguing for cooperating with Mueller. He argues that the White House should do everything possible to cooperate with Mueller’s investigation. Others still caution Trump against doing an interview.
Former New Jersey governor Chris Christie went on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” saying
‘I don’t think the president of the United States, unless there are credible allegations – which I don’t believe there are – should be sitting across from a special counsel.’
Former House speaker Newt Gingrich said on “Fox & Friends”:
‘The idea of putting Trump in a room with five or six hardened, very clever lawyers, all of whom are trying to trick him and trap him, would be a very, very bad idea.’
Neal K. Katyal, an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and a partner at the law firm Hogan Lovells said:
‘In general, presidents do sit for interviews or respond to requests from prosecutors because they take their constitutional responsibility to faithfully execute the laws seriously, and running away from a prosecutor isn’t consistent with faithfully executing the laws.’
Last month, Trump told reporters about an interview:
‘I’m looking forward to it, actually.’
He then finished his thought by saying that the interview would be “subject to my lawyers and all of that.”
Here are some thoughts from Twitter:
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