Special Counsel Robert Mueller told President Donald Trump's lawyers that he is not a criminal target of the Russia investigation, but rather a "subject" of the ongoing investigation into Russian election meddling and other crimes.
We live in a world in which the president is *relieved* when a special counsel informs him that he's *merely* the s… https://t.co/Ty3H2Ides5— Evan McMullin (@Evan McMullin)1522805564.0
This in no way exonerates the president, of course, nor does it mean that charges could not be filed at a later date, should sufficient evidence emerge.
This is the last time I repeat this: if you don't get that the WaPo story means EXTREMELY bad news for Trump (being… https://t.co/Wx5Ge2aG0G— Ale (@Ale)1522843542.0
“Mueller hasn’t hesitated to [charge] people for lying on some pretty tangential stuff,” said Solomon Wisenberg, a former deputy independent counsel in the probe of President Bill Clinton.
Nixon was not a “target” of the Watergate grand jury, but he became an un-indicted co-conspirator, and resigned bef… https://t.co/lowA0GtWcu— John Dean (@John Dean)1522802775.0
By offering Trump's team "assurance that his risk of criminal jeopardy was low," according to The Washington Post, Mueller appears to be attempting to entice the president into an interview.
🌀REALITY🌀 Trump being a SUBJECT of a grand jury probe does NOT mean he is cleared.🙄 👉🏼SUBJECT = person whose cond… https://t.co/5f3rDgTotP— Dr. Dena Grayson (@Dr. Dena Grayson)1522806540.0
Trump has repeatedly expressed interest in testifying in front of Mueller, in fact he has said he looks forward to it. And this news reportedly has Trump even more enthusiastic about the prospect of, as he sees it, clearing his name.
While Trump's lawyers and Trump himself appeared elated at the news, other advisers urged caution, because Mueller could be baiting Trump into an interview, which could deepen the president's legal woes.
Mueller’s description of the president’s status has sparked friction within Trump’s inner circle as his advisers have debated his legal standing. The president and some of his allies seized on the special counsel’s words as an assurance that Trump’s risk of criminal jeopardy is low. Other advisers, however, noted that subjects of investigations can easily become indicted targets — and expressed concern that the special prosecutor was baiting Trump into an interview that could put the president in legal peril.
1/ The Trump-Russia probe is the largest federal criminal probe of the last half-century. POLITICO estimates it fea… https://t.co/NmmbQBhWVO— Seth Abramson (@Seth Abramson)1522605129.0
Legal experts, like Princeton Professor of politics Keith Whittington, said the president should tread lightly.
If I were the president, I would be very reluctant to think I’m off the hook. My sense of it is the president — given that information — ought to have pretty fair warning anything he’s saying in the deposition would be legally consequential. Depending on what he says, it could wind up changing how the special counsel is thinking about him.
“The president’s personal risk is primarily on the impeachment front,” Whittington said. “Even if there are not things that lead to an indictment, there may be matters that warrant an impeachment investigation and proceedings.
3/ At the same, Mueller is investigating the possibility that Donald Trump committed the biggest political crime in… https://t.co/Velfi2lLPg— Seth Abramson (@Seth Abramson)1522605382.0
Whether Mueller can issue an indictment against Trump remains unclear, however, he could try to convince Congress to start impeachment proceedings against the president, should evidence of criminal activity appear.
'I'd wet my pants': Ex-CIA officer Phil Mudd nails the significance of Trump's status as a 'subject' of Mueller's p… https://t.co/NMODdfUrz2— Raw Story (@Raw Story)1522843233.0
Trump's lawyers, Jay Sekulow and Ty Cobb, purportedly advised the president that after months of denying any collusion or wrongdoing, refusing an interview would be foolish.
5/ Americans' patience with Mueller is further limited by the fact that the White House has successfully establishe… https://t.co/QeoFxInD3n— Seth Abramson (@Seth Abramson)1522605666.0
7/ For this reason, we now need to take a step back and look at the "shape" of the Trump-Russia investigation. Doin… https://t.co/6uLZZzJ8VK— Seth Abramson (@Seth Abramson)1522606158.0
“I think he would do much better than people think,” Wisenberg said. “But there are plenty of instances where a guy walks into a grand jury a subject. He gets out and is told: ‘Guess what, you’re a target now.’ ”
I hope someone is telling trump being the subject of an investigation isn’t something to brag about before the morning tweet storm.— Zerlina Maxwell (@Zerlina Maxwell)1522806296.0