Mueller is taking another shot at interviewing Trump as the president escalates his attacks on the Russia probe

Special counsel Robert Mueller.

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Special counsel Robert Mueller.
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Thomson Reuters

  • Both President Donald Trump and the special counsel Robert Mueller want to talk to each other about the Russia investigation, according to a pair of reports The New York Times and The Washington Post published Wednesday night.
  • The Times’ report notes that Trump has been asking his lawyers to agree on terms for an interview with Mueller. The attorneys reportedly fear Trump could risk further legal exposure if he talks.
  • For months, negotiations between the two sides have stalled, partly due to the public stance Trump’s defense attorney, Rudy Giuliani, has taken on the matter. Giuliani, in a series of media interviews over the last few months, has frequently changed his tune about the conditions he would require before having Trump sit down with Mueller.
  • The news follows renewed attacks from Trump on Wednesday. The president used his Twitter account to jab Attorney General Jeff Sessions and urge him to stop the Russia probe. Sessions recused himself from the investigation last year and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, is overseeing it.

Both President Donald Trump and the special counsel Robert Mueller want to talk to each other about the Russia investigation, according to a pair of reports The New York Times and The Washington Post published Wednesday night.

The Times’ report notes that Trump has been asking his lawyers to agree on terms for an interview with Mueller. Three unnamed people familiar with the discussions who were cited by The Times said the president’s attorneys fear Trump could risk further legal exposure if he talks to federal investigators who want to know whether members of the Trump campaign colluded with Russians to tilt the election in his favor during the 2016 election.

As part of the Russia probe, the prosecutors also want to quiz Trump on obstruction of justice, stemming in part from his words and actions related to the Russia probe after taking office.

The special counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly offering to modify the format of a portion of the interview, The Times said, allowing Trump to submit written answers to some questions, on the condition that the president’s lawyers would make him available for in-person follow-ups.

Negotiations between the two sides have continued in fits and starts in the months since the president added Rudy Giuliani to his legal team. Giuliani, in a number of interviews with news outlets, has frequently changed his tune about what terms he would accept in order for Trump to talk to Mueller.

A separate report from The Wall Street Journal cites Giuliani who told the publication Mueller agreed to “slightly decrease the number of questions” he wants Trump to answer, but that the questions still “covered the same amount of ground” as an earlier list.

Earlier this year, Trump attorney Jay Sekulow compiled dozens of prospective questions Mueller could ask the president, based on details from talks between the two parties. The precise content of Mueller’s questions is not publicly known.

Trump has previously expressed his willingness to talk to Mueller under oath, but has waffled on that issue. He took a more defensive stance when murmurings of a presidential subpoena emerged.

Giuliani on Wednesday reiterated that Trump is open to a Mueller interview, but quickly pulled back on that assertion.

“I’m not going to give you a lot of hope it’s going to happen, but we’re still negotiating,” he said.

The new developments on Wednesday night follow escalated attacks from Trump hours earlier. The president used his Twitter account to jab Attorney General Jeff Sessions and urge him to stop the Russia probe.

Sessions recused himself from all Russia-related matters last year and his deputy, Rod Rosenstein, is overseeing it – but he, too, has been on the receiving end of the president’s acrimony.

Rosenstein is also a frequent target of Trump’s most fervent loyalists in Congress.

A group of conservative Republicans just last week introduced articles of impeachment against the deputy attorney general. They withdrew the bid less than a day later.