President Donald Trump's lawyers want him to refuse to be interviewed by Robert Mueller in the ongoing investigation involving Russia and other possible areas of criminal activity. He may refuse, but the investigation isn't going away.
It's not surprising that Trump's lawyers probably believe he is so erratic and unhinged that he'll self-incriminate. But it's pretty shameful.
“Lawyers for President Trump have advised him against sitting down for a wide-ranging interview with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III,” reports the New York Times, citing 'four people briefed on the matter.'
What may be ahead: a “monthslong court battle over whether the president must answer questions under oath.”
His lawyers are concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators. Their stance puts them at odds with Mr. Trump, who has said publicly and privately that he is eager to speak with Mr. Mueller as part of the investigation into possible ties between his associates and Russia’s election interference, and whether he obstructed justice.
Mr. Trump’s decision about whether to speak to prosecutors, expected in the coming weeks, will shape one of the most consequential moments of the investigation. Refusing to sit for an interview opens the possibility that Mr. Mueller will subpoena the president to testify before a grand jury, setting up a court fight that would dramatically escalate the investigation and could be decided by the Supreme Court.
Rejecting an interview with Mr. Mueller also carries political consequences. It would be certain to prompt accusations that the president is hiding something, and a court fight could prolong the special counsel inquiry, casting a shadow over Republicans as November’s midterm elections approach or beyond into the president’s re-election campaign.
But John Dowd, the longtime Washington defense lawyer hired last summer to represent Mr. Trump in the investigation, wants to rebuff an interview request, as do Mr. Dowd’s deputy, Jay Sekulow, and many West Wing advisers, according to the four people. The lawyers and aides believe the special counsel might be unwilling to subpoena the president and set off a showdown with the White House that Mr. Mueller could lose in court.
Trump has been bragging that he would testify under oath, unlike when Hillary Clinton spoke with the FBI about her email server.— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) February 6, 2018
What if he doesn't speak to them at all?
And for the record, it doesn't really matter if he's under oath, since lying to the FBI is a crime no matter what.— Chris Megerian (@ChrisMegerian) February 6, 2018
Two things to remember since Trump's lawyers are apparently worried what he'd say to Mueller's team:— Mark Berman (@markberman) February 6, 2018
1. Since taking office, Trump has publicly made more than 2,100 false or misleading claimshttps://t.co/g25VaGfVA8
[IMAGE: John Dowd, the longtime Washington lawyer hired last summer to represent President Trump in the Russia investigation, wants Mr. Trump to rebuff an interview request from the special counsel. Credit Brendan Mcdermid/Reuters]