Special Counsel Robert Mueller can hardly resist interviewing Donald Trump. Certainly, the president’s attorneys have been preparing for that possibility. It seems, though, that Trump’s people have been trying to avoid a far worse eventuality, altogether.
Trump attorneys have been talking to the FBI investigators about an upcoming interview into whether the Trump campaign worked with the Russians to swing the 2016 election in his favor. The attorneys have been looking for clarification into what the FBI has planned for their boss.
They want to know if Mueller wants to interview Trump one-on-one, but more importantly, does a sitting president have the right to avoid such an interview completely? These discussions started soon after Trump’s former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, was caught in the Mueller web last October on charges of money laundering with his Ukraine business associates.
Criminal defense attorney, Alan Dershowit, said what Trump’s team was doing was “gamesmanship:”
‘I would never let the prosecution interview my client, but I don’t represent the president of the United States, and presidents don’t want to plead the Fifth. So this route makes sense.’
Trump’s attorneys have suggested that he submit written answers to Mueller in lieu of an in-person interview. Another idea they had was for the president to sign an affidavit “affirming he was innocent of any wrongdoing and denying any collusion,” according to NBC. There was no discussion of what the legal team wanted to do about the firing of Comey.
People who have worked in the Justice Department doubt that Mueller would concede to such an unusual agreement. Former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and chief of staff to former FBI Director James Comey, Chuck Rosenberg said, according to NBC:
‘Prosecutors want to see and hear folks in person. They want to probe and follow up. Body language and tone are important. And they want answers directly from witnesses, not from their lawyers. The odds of prosecutors agreeing to written responses are somewhere between infinitesimally small and zero.’
For some reason, Trump continues to insist that Mueller’s team is not investigating him. Instead, he calls the entire investigation a “hoax” and a “conspiracy.” He uses the opportunity to slam the FBI as the deep state, which is not at all accurate. The FBI was simply doing its job.
Trump told reporters at Camp David, NBC reported:
‘Just so you understand, there’s been no collusion, there’s been no crime, and in theory everybody tells me I’m not under investigation. Maybe Hillary (Clinton) is, I don’t know, but I’m not. But we have been very open. We could have done it two ways. We could have been very closed, and it would have taken years. But you know, sort of like when you’ve done nothing wrong, let’s be open and get it over with.’
‘Because, honestly, it’s very, very bad for our country. It’s making our country look foolish. And this is a country that I don’t want looking foolish. And it’s not going to look foolish as long as I’m here.’
Presidential historian, Robert Dallek commented on this unusual ploy to keep the president from being interviewed by Mueller or his people:
‘It very much depends on whether the president has things to hide. If there’s really nothing to hide, then I would think there’s no danger in him sitting down with anyone and speaking freely to them. But if there are things to hide, obviously there are risks.
‘This has never happened before. Maybe later in the administration, but in the first year to be under this kind of scrutiny and attack, it’s devastating to an administration.’
Featured Images via Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla.