Just days ago, President Donald Trump claimed that he was “looking forward” to being interviewed by special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation team. Mueller is the special counsel appointed to investigate allegations that President Trump’s election campaign team colluded with the Russians to influence the outcome of the 2016 presidential election, an investigation that Trump has repeatedly called a “politically inspired witch hunt.” Trump even claimed that he was willing to be interviewed under oath, but it seems that the president’s legal team is now “stonewalling” Mueller, who is also looking into allegations that President Trump is guilty of obstructing justice.
As many people will be aware, the Mueller investigation has already charged four people with criminal offenses. Former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate, Rick Gates, face multiple charges. President Trump’s former national security advisor, General Michael Flynn, and campaign foreign policy advisor George Papadopoulos entered guilty pleas to a charge of lying to FBI investigators. Apparently, Trump’s lawyers are worried that he too could face similar charges if he agrees to be interviewed.
According to the New York Times, President Trump’s defense team want him to avoid sitting down with the Mueller investigation team because they are worried about the president’s “history of making false statements and contradicting himself.” Of course, if President Trump were interviewed under oath by Mueller and made false or misleading statements, he could end up being the first sitting U.S. president to be indicted on criminal charges.
Can Trump Avoid Being Interviewed By The Mueller Investigation?
In many ways, President Trump is caught between a rock and a hard place. Having publicly declared that he is willing to meet Mueller face to face and under oath, it would be embarrassing for Trump to climb down from that position. If he does so, people will doubtless wonder what Trump is trying to hide.
If he agrees to the interview, Trump risks being caught in a web of lies and half-truths by a skilled team of interviewers who have been preparing for months. Let’s face it, the Mueller investigation team is intimately familiar with the minutia of the case, they have interviewed dozens of members of Trump’s election, transition, and White House teams, and they have reportedly subpoenaed over one million pages of documents.
So, if President Trump refuses to be interviewed by the Mueller investigation, what happens next? According to Business Insider, in that situation, Mueller would be likely to issue a subpoena ordering Trump to appear before a grand jury. Legal experts claim that President Trump would be unlikely to be able to avoid a grand jury subpoena. The Supreme Court ruled against sitting Presidents Bill Clinton and Richard Nixon when they attempted to avoid grand jury subpoenas, and the allegations against President Trump are more serious than those presidents faced.
However this one plays out, it would seem that the Mueller investigation is now firmly focused on President Trump himself. It should prove to be a fascinating few weeks in Donald Trump’s presidency.