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Trump-Mueller interview on the Russia investigation almost happened

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Robert Mueller
Robert Mueller.
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Wong/Getty Images


  • A new report from the Associated Press details the
    back-and-forth between President Donald Trump’s lawyers and the
    special counsel Robert Mueller, over the terms of a potential
    interview with Trump. Their compromise? Written answers to
    questions, which were delivered on Tuesday.
  • Logistics for an interview at Camp David on January 27
    this year were being worked out, before the plan was scrapped
    after lawyers learned the scope of Mueller’s
    questions.
  • Trump’s lawyers and the special counsel’s office landed
    on answering written questions only about the 2016 campaign —
    not obstruction of justice.
  • With the addition of Rudi Giuliani to the team in
    April, Trump’s team’s tactics included dragging out the
    interview and attacking Mueller.

A new report from the Associated Press details the back-and-forth
between President Donald Trump’s lawyers and the special counsel
Robert Mueller’s office and whether Trump would sit down with
Mueller for an interview under oath.

The matter has been a point of controversy ever since Mueller was
appointed as special counsel in May 2017, shortly after Trump
fired then-FBI director James Comey who had been overseeing the
investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential
election.

The Mueller-led Russia probe has landed several indictments of
Trump associates in the last 18 months. It has also prompted
frequent speculation about Trump’s possible legal exposure
stemming from actions he has taken during the 2016 campaign and
after he took office.

One of the biggest questions has centered on that Trump-Mueller
interview, on which the president has expressed conflicting
assertions — often changing his tune about whether or not he
would attend.

Additionally, the road to get there was long, the Associated
Press explained in a detailed report published Wednesday. It
included tense negotiations and Trump’s initial desire to answer
questions, the prospect of a subpoena, and a host of tactics put
forth by Trump’s lawyers.

Those strategies included saying that all of the documents
Trump’s lawyers provided to Mueller’s office were enough to make
a formal sit-down with Trump unnecessary. The lawyers have also
argued that questioning Trump about his time in the White House
would infringe on “his executive powers.”

Attorneys for the president also engaged in a one-sided public
war against Mueller. That was another tactic the Associated Press
said was meant to drag out the Trump-Mueller meeting negotiations
for as long as possible, while also attacking Mueller, an
exercise that was led by Rudi Giuliani, who joined Trump’s team
in April.

According to the AP, there was almost an interview scheduled for
January 27, 2018. Chief of Staff John Kelly got as far as working
on logistics to get Trump to Camp David before the plan was
scrapped by Trump’s lawyers, after learning the scope of
Mueller’s questions.

On Tuesday, the newswire service reported that written answers to
Mueller’s questions about the 2016 campaign — not potential
obstruction of justice — were submitted to the special counsel’s
office. This compromise was reached in September, “when Mueller’s
team said it would accept written answers on Russian election
interference and collusion,” the AP reports.

It’s unclear if Mueller will submit more questions to be
answered. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a
request for clarification from INSIDER on Wednesday night.

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