Sources familiar with discussions between the Russia investigation and President Donald Trump’s lawyers say that special counsel Robert Mueller and his team sought to get the president to speak in person with them, even after receiving written answers to questions they had for the commander-in-chief in November.
The Russia investigation, which is also looking into allegations of collusion involving members of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign team, is reportedly winding down, according to reporting from CNN. Still, even with the investigation purportedly coming to a near end, sources close to the matter say that there remains contentions between both camps regarding whether the president will or should sit with Mueller’s team of investigators.
Mueller’s team reportedly still want Trump to speak in person with investigators, those sources explained, adding that they made the request right after Trump submitted his written answers.
The special counsel long sought to get the president to answer questions regarding their investigation, but for several months both sides could not come to an agreement on how to resolve the issue. An agreement allowing Mueller to get answers to questions was devised, with the caveat being they would be written out for Trump to review and answer in writing.
Trump submitted those answers in mid-November, proclaiming when he did so that the answers were written out by him and not with the help from his legal team.
“My lawyers are not working on that,” Trump said at the time, according to a report from the New York Post. “I write answers. My lawyers don’t write answers. I answered the questions very easily. Very easily.”
Several months prior, the president insinuated that he was open to speaking with Mueller in person. “Nothing I want to do more” than to speak with the special counsel, Trump said in May, per reporting from the Chicago Sun-Times. But he was reluctant to do so, he added, “because everybody sees it now and it’s a pure witch hunt.”
Although Mueller’s team reportedly still wants Trump to speak to them, recent events seem to make the chances of that not likely to happen. Trump’s legal team said the fact that Mueller is allowing a former lawyer to the president, Michael Cohen, speak publicly in front of Congress is making them less willing to agree to any more interviews.
Cohen will make his public appearance before the House Reform and Oversight Committee next month.
“In furtherance of my commitment to cooperate and provide the American people with answers, I have accepted the invitation by Chairman Elijah Cummings to appear publicly on Feb. 7,” Cohen wrote in a statement, according to reporting from the New York Times. “I look forward to having the privilege of being afforded a platform with which to give a full and credible account of the events which have transpired.”