According to Politico, Donald Trump’s lawyers are about to roll the dice.
In what could end up being either a good move or an outright disastrous decision, the President’s attorneys are set to propose an interview between Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller. “If Mueller doesn’t request an interview by Thanksgiving, Trump’s lawyers may even force the issue by volunteering Trump’s time,” Politico writes, in a piece out this morning.
The idea here is to convey to the public that Trump has nothing to hide and, secondarily, to perhaps help speed the process in order to remove a cloud from the administration. “Trump would be the first president since Bill Clinton to face questions under oath from a federal prosecutor,” Politico adds.
The risk here is obvious. For one thing, Trump does have something to hide, even if he doesn’t fully understand it and as more than a few legal experts have suggested over the past few months, it is by no means clear that his lawyers fully comprehend what it is they’re up against in Mueller’s investigation. But beyond that, there is no way to “prep” Donald Trump for an interview with Robert Mueller. This is a man who doesn’t even understand why he shouldn’t be tweeting about nuclear war in the middle of the night. If his attorneys think they can trust him to sit through an entire interview with Robert Mueller without flying off the handle or, at the very least, accidentally incriminating himself, they don’t know much about their client.
“A meeting with Mueller could bring serious risks for Trump—exposing him to questions about everything from potential obstruction of justice over his firing of FBI Director James Comey to what Trump might know about Kremlin support for his presidential campaign,” Politico notes, underscoring how precarious this would be for a President whose temper is so short that he can’t even suffer a perceived slight from Steph Curry.
To be clear, there is no question that Mueller can force Trump to be interviewed. It’s just a chess game in terms of each side deciding on the timing. For his part, Robert Bennett – who Politico reminds you helped lead Clinton’s high-powered outside legal team during the Lewinsky scandal – thinks it would be a mistake for Trump’s lawyers to suggest the interview. “The wise thing to do is delay it as long as humanly possible to see what other things fall out,” he said.
According to Politico’s piece, Mueller has already started interviewing Trump’s White House aides.
At least one expert thinks Mueller should avoid interviewing Trump simply because there’s no telling what he might do. “It would be an understatement to say this president is unpredictable and if you can make a case without his testimony I believe you would do that,” Katy Harriger, a Wake Forest University constitutional law professor who has written a book about special prosecutors says.
On the bright side, Trump has a lot of experience when it comes to being in legal trouble. At last count, he’s been involved in 4,095 federal and state lawsuits. So you know, maybe practice makes perfect.
In the end, it seems highly unlikely that any interview between Trump and Mueller would go well for this President. Surely his attorneys realize that. It’s probably fair to say that offering the President’s time is more of a desperation move than it is a preemptive gambit. Or maybe not, consider one final excerpt from Politico:
All of the key decisions on Trump’s potential interaction with Mueller will come from the president himself and his personal lawyer, John Dowd, who declined to comment for this story.
In other words: when it comes right down to it, Trump is effectively representing himself in these proceedings. Good luck with that, Mr. President.