WH Lawyers Want To Limit The Scope Of What Mueller Can Ask Trump As Imminent Interview Looms
Lawyers for President Donald Trump are anticipating a request for the President to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller and are discussing how to limit the scope of what the Special Counsel can ask the president, CNN reported Monday.
Citing sources with knowledge of the matter, the news outlet reported that Mueller’s team would not wrap up the investigation without an interview with the President.
The President’s legal team has been preparing for the expected request for months and are looking into how previous administrations have handled requests like this in the past as a basis for limiting the President’s exposure: whether he actually needs to testify under oath, whether he can provide written answers to questions from Mueller’s team and whether the testimony should be recorded.
Trump’s attorneys don’t want their client to be interviewed by the special counsel’s team, fearing that trump would crack under pressure, one source told CNN.
In the summer of 1998, Ken Starr’s office subpoenaed President Bill Clinton to testify before the grand jury. After several days of negotiation between the President’s lawyers and Starr’s team, the independent counsel withdrew the subpoena. Clinton testified from the White House before the grand jury via closed-circuit television, which was taped and later publicly released. He also gave interviews under oath at the White House which were used as transcripts before the grand jury.
During the Iran-contra investigation in 1987, independent prosecutor Lawrence Walsh reportedly weighed whether to interview President Ronald Reagan in person or accept the President’s written testimony. It was later decided that Reagan would submit written answers to Walsh’s questions.
Over the weekend, Trump did not dismiss the idea of talking to Mueller’s team. When asked by a reporter if he would meet with Mueller, Trump said, “yeah,” and then said there has been no collusion and no crime, and did not clarify his answer about a potential meeting.
In June, Trump said he was “one hundred percent” willing to testify under oath about his interactions with former FBI Director James Comey, which could now be part of an obstruction of justice investigation.
Starr said Monday that it’s “probable” that Trump will need to meet with Mueller before the special counsel can complete his investigation.
“(Mueller) needs to, in order to round out, complete his investigation, to come to a decision. He needs to look the President in the eye and ask the appropriate questions,” the former US Solicitor General said, according to the News Netwrok.
As noted in the report, interviews in criminal investigations are voluntary. Trump couldn’t be forced to speak directly to Mueller or the FBI; he could only be compelled to testify before a grand jury.
But Trump’s lawyers prefer to deal with Mueller because they could be present during the interview. Grand juries don’t allow defense attorneys in the room during proceedings.