President Trump and his legal team say they’re open for an interview with Robert Mueller.
An interview with special counsel’s Russia probe would help Trump dispel suspicion, even if it is a waste of his time.
According to one White House official, Trump’s lawyers may even demand an interview with Mueller if he doesn’t make a request by Thanksgiving.
Donald Trump’s lawyers are open to having the president sit down for an interview with Robert Mueller, according to a senior White House official, as part of a wider posture of cooperation with the special counsel’s Russia probe.
If Mueller doesn’t request an interview by Thanksgiving, Trump’s lawyers might even force the issue by volunteering Trump’s time, the official said. The White House believes such an interview could help Mueller wrap up the probe faster and dispel the cloud of suspicion over Trump.
A meeting with Mueller could bring serious risks for Trump — exposing him to questions about everything from potential obstruction of justice over his firing of FBI Director James Comey to what Trump might know about Kremlin support for his presidential campaign.
But the official suggested that the White House has no reason to stonewall Mueller.
“Whatever happens with regard to whether or not, or how, the special counsel might want to interview the president, there’s no reason to expect that would be combative,” the senior White House official explained.
Trump may very well be asked about his firing of James Comey. But why would questions like that or about a Russian conspiracy to subject Americans to ads that portrayed negative information about Hillary Clinton during the campaign pose “serious risks for Trump?”
There’s a surprising number of Americans who think Trump did something illegal, and it involves Russia, despite the absence of evidence. Trump and his lawyers, therefore, want the interview to happen, possibly even demanding one if Mueller decides to back off.
If Trump wants to help clear his name for critics and theorists, then an interview with Mueller can only help him. Some wonder, though, if Trump’s temper could help the media in efforts to devastate his presidency.
Former President Clinton’s 1998 testimony with an independent counsel ruined his reputation. Trump certainly does not want to make that same mistake.
Trump told reporters this spring that he was “100 percent” willing to testify under oath about alleged Russian ties to his campaign.
But even if he has nothing to hide, Trump’s unpredictable nature and willingness to bend the facts pose headaches for his legal team as it strategizes for a possible sit-down with Mueller. One angry or untrue statement could have devastating political and legal consequences for the president.
Trump would be the first president since Bill Clinton to face questions under oath from a federal prosecutor. In August 1998, Clinton famously sat for four hours of testimony as part of independent counsel Kenneth Starr’s investigation into Clinton’s affair with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
If Trump can sit down and just answer Mueller’s questions (and he wasn’t involved in some Kremlin conspiracy) then he has nothing to worry about. The ball is in Mueller’s court now, and we’re all waiting for an answer.