Even before President Donald Trump sits down for his promised interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller, his fate over whether or not Mueller will recommend impeachment proceedings against him may already be sealed, according to legal experts.
This week, four sources told The New York Times that Trump ordered the firing of Mueller, who is probing whether his campaign aided Russian interference in the 2016 election. They explained to The Times that the president only backed down on his order when White House counsel Don McGhan threatened to resign.
Addressing the controversy at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump called the report “Fake news.”
“Fake news. Typical New York Times. Fake stories,” Trump said of the story in brief remarks early Friday.
If the report is true, however, it would mean that Trump may not be able to avoid answering an uncomfortable question during Mueller’s interview that could tie his hands: Did you order my firing? Either a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer could get Trump impeached.
Trump told reporters Wednesday that he wants to be “under oath” during his interview with Mueller and that his lawyers are negotiating for the interview to happen in “about two or three weeks.”
So in his interview with Mueller, how does Trump answer the question: “Did you order the Special Counsel to be fired?” Either answer is a crime. Yes locks in obstruction case. No is lying to the FBI. That’s a real trap, according to some experts.
“Either answer is a crime. Yes locks in obstruction case. No is lying to the FBI. That’s a real trap,” Ken Gude, a senior fellow for National Security who studies law and counter-terrorism at the nonpartisan Center for American Progress think tank, wrote on Twitter.
So in his interview with Mueller, how does Trump answer the question: "Did you order the Special Counsel to be fired?" Either answer is a crime. Yes locks in obstruction case. No is lying to the FBI. That's a real trap.
— Ken Gude (@KenGude) January 26, 2018
Knowingly making false statements to the FBI and federal law enforcement, whether or not the subject is under oath, is considered a crime.
Trump claims that what some call obstruction was just him “fighting back.” Of course, there’s a word for doing things that interfere with an investigation with the purpose of “fighting back.” That word is obstruction,” tweeted Noah Bookbinder, the former chief counsel for criminal justice in the Senate Judiciary Committee and now head of the ethics watchdog group CREW.
The President said yesterday that what some call obstruction was just him "fighting back." Of course, there's a word for doing things that interfere with an investigation with the purpose of "fighting back." That word is obstruction. https://t.co/KlJUJWgsCM
— Noah Bookbinder (@NoahBookbinder) January 25, 2018
Trump’s personal lawyers defending him in Mueller’s Russia investigation have received a list of topics the special counsel plans to cover, according to CNN. One source said that chief among those topics are issues over whether Trump has obstructed justice by attempting to quash the Russia investigation.
Another legal expert, National Security attorney Brad Moss, said on Thursday that the latest story about Trump’s reported efforts to fire Mueller make it almost certain “there will be a recommendation in Mueller’s report that Congress consider impeachment proceedings.”
I’m calling it.
I have refused to make predictions all this time about what was going to happen.
There will be a recommendation in Mueller’s report that Congress consider impeachment proceedings. It’s going to happen. https://t.co/8US0FkCeTq
— Bradley P. Moss (@BradMossEsq) January 26, 2018
In short, Trump appears to be toasted and headed for impeachment.