After attempting to limit the scope of any Robert Mueller interview with President Donald Trump by offering a sit-down in exchange for terms and concessions failed to bear fruit, Trump's personal lawyers recently began a new tactic to protect their employer: full(ish) disclosure. Trump’s attorneys turned over written descriptions of key moments under investigation in the Russia probe.
Trump told aides he is “champing at the bit” to sit for an interview, but his lawyers would prefer he not, at least not without some limits in place. Through providing written descriptions, Mueller's office should not need to ask what they already know, thus limiting the scope and duration of any Trump interview.
The descriptions include only summaries of internal memos and correspondence about events. The president's legal team worry that Trump, who admits to making false claims, may do so in an hours-long or in-depth interview.
“We have very constructive, productive communications with the special counsel and his colleagues,” said John Dowd, an attorney and legal team spokesman for the president. He declined comment on records provided to Mueller.
We’re blessed to have them (communications with Mueller's team). I think it’s helpful to them and of course I think it’s very helpful to us.”
The Office of Special Counsel declined to comment on any communications or exchange of information with the president's personal lawyers.
According to a report from the Washington Post, special counsel investigators told Trump’s lawyers their main questions regarding the president fall into two categories: “What did he do?” and “What was he thinking when he did it?”
Trump’s lawyers expect Mueller to ask Trump if he knew about Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the transition phase between the election and inauguration. What instructions the president gave Flynn about the contact are also of concern.
In February, Trump said he fired Flynn after he misled Vice President Pence about his Russian contacts.
As part of the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, certain White House firings appear suspicious. In addition to focusing on Trump’s firing of his national security adviser, Flynn, Mueller's team is looking into possible obstruction of justice through efforts to halt the investigation, namely by firing FBI director James Comey.
At the time, the president claimed he fired Comey because of mishandling in the investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The records provided to Mueller are not summaries of Trump’s personal version of events but rather a generic White House view. Trump’s legal team hopes the documents eliminate the need to ask the president about some events.
The president continues to deny any wrongdoing, calling the investigation a “witch hunt” since May. Over the weekend the president sounded off on Mueller's team again.
However, in each case, Twitter was quick to correct the president.