Trump’s lawyers reject Mueller’s latest terms for interview: report
President Trump’s legal team in the Russia investigation reportedly rebuffed special counsel Robert Mueller’s conditions for an interview on Wednesday, instead suggesting a more limited line of questioning.
The New York Times reported that attorneys Jay Sekulow and Rudy Giuliani did not completely reject an interview, but instead countered Mueller’s offer with another one of their own. The lawyers did not comment on the specifics of their proposal, but sources told the newspaper that it rules out potential questions about obstruction of justice.
“We’re restating what we have been saying for months: It is time for the Office of the Special Counsel to conclude its inquiry without further delay,” Giuliani told The New York Times.
The response is the latest gesture in a long-running back-and-forth between Trump’s legal team and Mueller’s team in an effort to establish ground rules for a presidential interview.
The Washington Post reported last week that Mueller was contemplating reducing the number of questions he planned to ask about obstruction of justice during a sit-down interview. He would instead allow Trump to submit some of his responses on that topic in writing.
The New York Times recently reported that Mueller’s team is looking at Trump’s tweets about former FBI Director James Comey and Attorney General Jeff Sessions as part of a broader investigation into whether the president obstructed justice.
Trump has insisted publicly that he wants to speak with Mueller, as he maintains he did not collude with Russia in the 2016 election. He has simultaneously blasted the special counsel’s investigation as a “witch hunt,” and called Russian interference a “hoax.”
His legal team has consistently cautioned against Trump sitting down with Mueller, warning that investigators could catch Trump perjuring himself if he contradicts other witnesses.
Even so, Giuliani has at various times in recent months indicated the two sides continued to negotiate on an interview, blowing through multiple self-imposed deadlines for when he expected to have a firm answer on the matter.
The former New York City mayor told The Hill on Tuesday that there was no self-imposed deadline to cut off negotiations on an interview, but said “it feels like” it is getting close to a conclusion.
Soon, Giuliani said, “we’re going to find out who is going to give on the things that are important.”
If the two sides cannot come to an agreement, it sets up the possibility that Mueller could subpoena the president. Giuliani has vowed to take the special counsel to court over a subpoena.