Donald Trump’s legal team has issued an open challenge to special sounsel Robert Mueller to show evidence that the president committed a crime, reports Business Insider.
Rudy Giuliani, who is leading Trump’s defense counsel, said that his client would agree to an interview only if the special counsel’s team presented sufficient evidence that such a meeting would be key to bringing criminal charges against Donald Trump.
“If they can come to us and show us the basis and that it’s legitimate and that they have uncovered something, we can go from there and assess their objectivity,” he said.
As reported, this open call to present evidence marks a shift in Trump team’s strategy of dealing with the Mueller investigation. While Trump has often maintained that Mueller’s probe is fueled by Democratic vendetta against him, his campaign and staff have quietly gone about co-operating with the special counsel’s team since the probe was launched in May of last year.
Moreover, as the New York Times reported, Giuliani wants Mueller to explain why he launched a separate obstruction-of-justice investigation against Trump, when in fact the Justice Department had appointed him to inquire about possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign.
But Giuliani’s questioning of the probe appears more to be a play in rhetoric than actually doubting its credibility, since the May, 2017, order clearly stated that Robert Muller had the full right to investigate “any matters that arose or may arise directly from the [collusion] investigation.”
The fact that Trump’s legal team is now on the offensive could, in part, be due to the fact that Robert Mueller’s investigation has hired more prosecutors as he looks to step away from the probe, according to Bloomberg. The report claimed that Mueller is keen to add more prosecutors because the special counsel’s office believes that the investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia is set to continue for quite a while. But Mueller may want to interview Donald Trump before he decides to hand over the probe to a larger group of federal prosecutors.
Mueller has already handed over the investigation into Michael Cohen, Trump’s longtime personal attorney, and would now likely move toward gradually ending his own direct involvement with the probe. He has already charged 20 individuals with criminal charges over the course of the investigation, securing five guilty pleas in the process.
The most notable among those indictments was that of Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, who has been charged with multiple financial crimes as well as conspiracy to obstruct justice.