President Donald Trump’s legal team responded Wednesday to special counsel Robert Mueller’s request for an interview with the president as part of the ongoing probe into allegations of collusion between Trump campaign officials and Russia.
“We have responded in writing to the latest proposal from the Office of Special Counsel regarding its request to interview the president,” Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s attorneys, said in a statement. “It is not appropriate at this time to comment publicly about the content of that response.”
Mueller has sought Trump’s testimony for months on a number of topics, including collusion allegations and accusations of obstruction of justice in the May 2017 firing of former FBI Director James Comey.
Although Trump insisted on multiple occasions that he wants to sit down with Mueller and clear his name, his attorneys have sternly and repeatedly warned against the dangers of doing so.
Mueller entered his second year helming the Russia probe in May, and Trump’s lawyers’ “will they” or “won’t they” allow Trump to interview with Mueller drama has dragged on for months.
Giuliani has urged Mueller to end the probe by September to avoid interfering in the contentious 2018 congressional midterm elections.
“Millions of pages of documents along with testimony from dozens of witnesses have been provided,” former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, now a member of Trump’s legal team, said in a statement Wednesday. “We’re restating what we have been saying for months: it is time for the Office of Special Counsel to conclude its inquiry without further delay.”
But Giuliani told Fox News’ “Outnumbered” last week that he was a “no way” on whether Trump should interview with Mueller for the probe.
“I’m ‘no’ on a sit-down until we get ironed out exactly what [Mueller’s officials] want to do,” Giuliani said. “Right now, I’m telling [Trump], ‘No way.’ We’re not going to do it.”
But Giuliani told Politico Tuesday that Trump could sit down with Mueller if the special counsel nixed some obstruction questions.
“If [Mueller] can demonstrate to us he’s got a couple [of] questions on obstruction that he doesn’t have the answer to, that he really needs the answer to, and he hasn’t made up his mind that Trump is lying, we might — we might — allow that.”
Although the particulars of Trump’s lawyers’ offer to Mueller remain publicly undisclosed, Harvard Law School Professor Emeritus Alan Dershowitz predicted Wednesday on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” that the lawyers will make Mueller “an offer he can’t accept.”
“I think the tactic is emerging and is fairly clear. The president wants to testify, his lawyers don’t want him to testify. So the lawyers are going to set up a series of conditions, to put it in terms of the Godfather, they are going to make Mueller an offer he can’t accept,” Dershowitz speculated.
“And in the end Mueller will say, ‘Look, I can’t accept this offer, so we’re going to subpoena you.’ The president will be able to say, ‘Look, I wanted to testify, it was Mueller who turned me down. I wanted to tell the American people what happened.’ And then there will be a fight over the subpoena,” Dershowitz added.
Any potential subpoena scuffle “will end up months from now as a draw,” Dershowitz insisted, because Trump “will win some issues” while losing others as to what he may or may not be compelled to testify about.
“So in the end it will end up postponing the report because either Mueller will have to say in the report the president wouldn’t do it and therefore he should infer guilt from that, or we’ll have to wait until he resolves these issues in front of judges,” Dershowitz said.
“So, I think that is the strategy that seems to be emerging, and it seems like a clever strategy,” Dershowitz said.