Listen, here’s the thing: Donald Trump cannot – and I mean like, seriously you guys, cannot – be allowed to sit for an interview with Robert Mueller.
There’s a list of reasons why he cannot be allowed to do that that’s longer than the list of questions Mueller reportedly wants to ask, but it all boils down to two simple things:
- Trump is a pathological liar and when he’s not lying he’s employing bombast in the service of something or other, where “other” sometimes means just for sheer hell of it
- everyone involved with the Trump campaign is lying and it’s impossible to keep the story straight when there are dozens of people on record not telling the truth about a real-life international conspiracy
As to the first point, here’s what we said back in March when it came out that Trump’s legal team (which is constantly in flux) was reportedly trying to trade an interview with the President for a promise from Mueller to end the probe (and yes, that’s just as absurd as it sounds, like trying to defend an accused murderer by telling prosecutors you’ll allow your client to be interviewed about a homicide on the condition all charges are dropped):
As a reminder, Trump’s attorneys and confidants have been wary of allowing the President to sit for an interview with the special counsel because, just to be brutally honest, Trump is a moron, is prone to hyperbole, exaggeration, and in some cases, outright lying. That 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.
Since then, John Dowd resigned after failing to convince Trump that an interview was a bad idea and Rudy Giuliani has been brought on, ostensibly to try and compel Mueller to wrap things up.
Since joining Trump’s legal team (and thereby condemning himself to the wrong side of history) two months ago, Giuliani has at various times suggested that the special counsel investigation is winding down and much like Ty Cobb and John Dowd before him, he’s doomed to see that prediction proven demonstrably wrong.
Giuliani’s ongoing press junket has of course been a goddamn train wreck, full of bizarre rants and characterized by an unnerving (if you’re Trump and Michael Cohen) penchant for accidentally pseudo-confessing to actual crimes. Even Trump realizes it, going so far as to suggest that Rudy “get his facts straight” just two weeks after Giuliani took the job.
For reasons that remain a mystery (apparently job performance isn’t something Trump takes into account when evaluating his attorneys) Giuliani continues to give interviews (for instance, he effectively tried to tell The New York Times that he has the power to slap a sell-by date on the Mueller probe).
Well on Saturday evening, The Times reported that Trump’s lawyers have been dodging a subpoena for months. To wit:
President Trump’s lawyers have for months quietly waged a campaign to keep the special counsel from trying to force him to answer questions in the investigation into whether he obstructed justice, asserting that he cannot be compelled to testify and arguing in a confidential letter that he could not possibly have committed obstruction because he has unfettered authority over all federal investigations.
In a brash assertion of presidential power, the 20-page letter – sent to the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, and obtained by The New York Times – contends that the president cannot illegally obstruct any aspect of the investigation into Russia’s election meddling because the Constitution empowers him to, “if he wished, terminate the inquiry, or even exercise his power to pardon.”
Mr. Trump’s lawyers fear that if he answers questions, either voluntarily or in front of a grand jury, he risks exposing himself to accusations of lying to investigators, a potential crime or impeachable offense.
Mr. Trump’s broad interpretation of executive authority is novel and is likely to be tested if a court battle ensues over whether he could be ordered to answer questions.
Trump wasn’t amused:
Yeah, so clearly that Times article is disconcerting for what it says about Trump being quite literally above the law and it raises all kinds of questions about how he might attempt to use his pardon power.
Well in an interview Sunday with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Giuliani actually said that Trump “probably does” have the power to pardon himself and then, he said this:
He has no intention of pardoning himself.
Here’s the clip:
Oh, well gee Rudy, thanks for that, but I’m not sure it helps. In fact, that makes the optics around this even worse, because although it was most assuredly meant to give the impression that Trump has nothing to pardon himself for, it conveys the exact opposite of that.
Believe it or not, that wasn’t even the punchline – this was:
Got that?” Here it is again:
This is the reason you don’t let the president testify. Our recollection keeps changing, or we’re not even asked a question and somebody makes an assumption.
I’m sorry, but is that Rudy explicitly saying that the “reason you don’t let the president testify” is because he and everyone around him (including his lawyers) are having problems keeping their story straight? It certainly sounds like it.
But again, we agree with Rudy on one thing: you absolutely cannot let Trump sit for an interview with Mueller because he would probably commit a crime every time he opened his mouth.