Trump Lawyer: Odds Against President Testifying in Russia Probe
U.S. President Donald Trump's attorney said Monday it remains unlikely Trump will agree to answer questions from special counsel Robert Mueller about Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election and whether the president obstructed justice by trying to thwart the investigation.
"The odds are against it, but I wouldn't be shocked, because he wants to do it," Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani said of the president in a CNN interview.
Giuliani said, however, that if Trump does sit for an interview, he would only agree to answer questions about whether his campaign colluded with Russia to help him win, not questions, except in a very limited way, about obstruction.
Trump has for months said there was "no collusion" between his campaign aides and Russia and that as president he did not attempt to block Mueller's probe.
Trump unleashed a new broadside against Mueller and his investigation late Sunday, accusing the prosecutor of undisclosed "conflicts of interest" involving him, "including the fact that we had a very nasty & contentious business relationship."
Giuliani declined to say what the purported Trump-Mueller business relationship was and said it was up to Mueller to reveal it, even though Trump raised the issue with his Twitter comment.
The former New York mayor said if Trump is interviewed by Mueller's legal team, "Our real concern is they're going to set up a perjury trap," attempting to catch Trump, who often misstates facts, in a lie, which is a criminal offense.
He said Trump's legal team presented its offer for limited questioning of the president to Mueller's team 10 days ago but has not heard back. Mueller, if he does not like the proposed limits on questioning, could subpoena Trump to testify, setting the stage for a legal fight that could eventually be decided by the Supreme Court over whether a sitting president can be compelled to testify.
Mueller is expected to adhere to U.S. Justice Department guidelines to not indict a current president, but is expected to write a report on his findings that could, if wrongdoing is alleged, be turned over to Congress. If it wishes, Congress could start impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Giuliani said he thinks Mueller wants to conclude his now 14-month probe by sometime in September, enough time before the nationwide congressional elections on November 6, "so they can say they didn't interfere in the elections."
In the CNN interview, Giuliani sharply attacked Michael Cohen, Trump's former personal lawyer, for taping conversations with clients, including one in which the future president discussed a hush money payment to former Playboy magazine model Karen McDougal shortly before the 2016 election to buy her silence about the alleged affair she says she had with Trump more than a decade ago.
Giuliani accused Cohen of "fooling, lying, deceiving everyone he talked with." He said Trump, who employed Cohen for a decade, "had a close friend betray him. It happens in life."
"You've forfeited your law license, as far as I'm concerned," Giuliani said. "You can't record your client without his permission. It's outrageous."