It was just last Friday when the Wall Street Journal reported that Trump’s lawyers are working on a (very) “stable genius” plan to bargain with special counsel Robert Mueller.
According to the Journal, Trump and his legal team are considering whether to try and use an interview with the President as leverage in order to compel Mueller to effectively put a sell-by date on his investigation.
“The president’s legal team is considering telling Mr. Mueller that Mr. Trump would agree to a sit-down interview based on multiple considerations, including that the special counsel commit to a date for concluding at least the Trump-related portion of the investigation,” WSJ wrote, adding that “one idea is to suggest a deadline of 60 days from the date of the interview.”
As noted last Friday, that is absurd for any number of reasons, not the least of which is that it doesn’t seem likely Mueller would agree to put an expiration date on his investigation in exchange for the “privilege” of interviewing the person he’s investigating.
But beyond that, the problem here is of course Trump himself and his penchant for bombast, exaggeration and outright lying. As we also wrote last week, Trump’s inability to open his mouth without lying “sets up the potential for him to accidentally commit a crime during the interview in addition to the crimes he’s being interviewed about, a comically ridiculous situation befitting of a comically ridiculous president.”
Trump doesn’t see it that way, because he’s incapable of objectively evaluating himself. In his mind, he’s “the best” at special counsel interviews. Something like this: “no one covers up obstruction of justice better than I do – a lot of people are saying that.”
The bottom line is that even if Robert Mueller had absolutely nothing concrete on Trump prior to an interview, it is entirely possible that Trump would effectively indict himself by accident if his lawyers make the mistake of putting him in the same room with the special counsel.
Even Roger Stone realizes this. “I find it to be a death wish. Why would you walk into a perjury trap?” Roger said earlier this year, adding that “the president would be very poorly advised to give Mueller an interview.”
Right, but remember that when it comes to who Trump takes advice from, he’s “speaking with himself” first and foremost because “himself” has a “very good brain” and “himself” has “said a lot of things” over the years.
So ultimately, his legal advisers be damned, he and “himself” are probably going to insist on an interview which presumably is why his lawyers are, according to a new article out this morning from Politico, “gaming out possible questions and answers”. Here’s more:
The preparations reflect an understanding that negotiations with the lead Russia investigator, which have been ongoing since January, will eventually culminate in a sit-down meeting between Mueller with the president. One source said the discussions about the terms of a possible interview may soon even reach a conclusion.
“I don’t think it’s months and months out. I don’t think it’s in a week,” said the person familiar with the negotiations. “But I think it’s moving toward closure.”
But even given the high stakes of a potential meeting with Mueller, Trump’s lawyers face a challenge in prepping a president who resists following scripts and who has deep trust in his own improvisational instincts.
Yes, Dennison has “deep trust in his own improvisational instincts” and that appears to be frustrating some folks. As one Republican who spoke to Politico put it:
You can’t prepare him. And he can’t be prepared. And Mueller gets nothing out of it except a perjury charge. Is that all he’s trying to get out of this?
Well no, but hey, that’ll work!
According to Solomon Wisenberg, a former deputy on Kenneth Starr’s independent counsel investigation into Bill Clinton,this whole thing is “a non-starter for Mueller.”
“That’s bullshit,” he told Politico, adding that “you accommodate the president but you don’t change the rules for him in a substantive way.”
Asked what would happen if Trump’s lawyers ultimately refuse an interview, Wisenberg said this:
If Trump does not sit down and talk he’s going to subpoena him.