Attorney Solomon Wisenberg said Wednesday night that he would “physically restrain my client” from testifying before special counsel Robert Mueller and walking into a perjury trap “in these circumstances” that President Donald Trump faces.
“I think it’s suicidal. I think it’s idiotic,” said Wisenberg, the deputy independent counsel for Kenneth Starr’s Whitewater-Lewinsky investigation of President Bill Clinton. “It’s a terrible strategy, and I can’t believe — I mean, I would physically restrain my client in these circumstances.” Wisenberg appeared on “The Ingraham Angle.”
Wisenberg (pictured above) told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that Trump and his lawyers should focus on what “the real key” is here as they mull over whether to allow the president to sit down with Mueller.
“Based on everything we know, they don’t have anything close to an obstruction case on the president,” Wisenberg said. “It is much easier to prove a case of lying to the government … than it is to prove an obstruction case, particularly based on what they have. It has to be material, but the threshold for a material lie is extremely low.”
The New York Times reported Wednesday that Trump is still pushing against his legal team’s advice for a sit-down interview with Mueller, who is investigating allegations of collusion between aides in his 2016 campaign and Russian interests.
Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now a member of Trump’s legal team, told Fox News’ “Outnumbered” on Monday that he’s a “no” on allowing Trump to speak with Mueller and his investigators.
“Right now, I’m telling him, ‘No way.’ We’re not going to do it,” Giuliani insisted.
Mueller reportedly hopes to ask Trump questions about Russian collusion and obstruction of justice in the president’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey. CNN reported Wednesday that Mueller has offered “to reduce the number of obstruction-related questions,” but would require some of the answers to be verbal — not written.
Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz agreed with Wisenberg, saying, “It’s not about quantity. It’s about quality. All they have to do is ask [Trump] one question — what was your motive? Why did you fire Comey? Or why did you ask Comey maybe to go easy on [former national security adviser Michael] Flynn?”
“All they want to do is get [Trump] to say — in context where he can be charged with a crime — something that’s controversial and something that somebody else will come in and testify and say, ‘No, he told me something different. No, he told me that his motive was this or that,'” he added, noting that motives “are so vague and subjective.”
If Trump isn’t extremely careful and precise in a sit-down interview with Mueller, and if another witness offers a different account, then Trump easily could “be charged with lying to prosecution officials,” Dershowitz warned.
And if the prosecutor “is trying to get [Trump] and wants to put [him] in a perjury trap,” then the president will have “walked into a perjury trap.”
“So, in the end, I don’t think his lawyers are going to let President Trump testify orally at all,” Dershowitz predicted. “Look, the president may get his way. He says he wants to testify. But no lawyer is going to walk his client into a perjury trap.”
The Harvard professor also reacted to a CNN report Wednesday revealing that Mueller has referred three cases involving American lobbyists accused of failing to register as foreign agents to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York. One of the cases involves Democratic lobbyist Tony Podesta, brother of 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton’s former campaign chairman, John Podesta.
Mueller already referred the case of Trump’s former personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, to the Southern District of New York.
“This just proves that you never needed a special counsel,” Dershowitz insisted. “They’re taking these cases — more and more of them — they’re referring them to ordinary U.S. attorneys’ offices.”
Dershowitz said that even former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s case “could have easily been tried by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Northern Virginia” and “the District of Columbia U.S. Attorney’s office.”
“Why do we need a special counsel? The cases don’t involve Russia for the most part,” Dershowitz said. “So we’re seeing more and more proof that we never needed a special counsel, that the special counsel will end up filing a report and getting some low-hanging fruit and getting some convictions largely unrelated to what his mandate originally was.”