This might be the biggest showdown since Floyd Mayweather took on MMA champ Conor McGregor last year … if it comes to pass at all. NBC News reports that Donald Trump’s legal team has begun preparations for an interrogation by special counsel Robert Mueller as part of the probe into alleged Russian collusion.
Perhaps they could sell this as a pay-per-view event. Mayweather and McGregor could come in as consultants:
Anticipating that Special Counsel Robert Mueller will ask to interview President Donald Trump, the president’s legal team is discussing a range of potential options for the format, including written responses to questions in lieu of a formal sit-down, according to three people familiar with the matter.
Lawyers for Trump have been discussing with FBI investigators a possible interview by the special counsel with the president as part of the inquiry into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Russia during the 2016 election.
The discussions were described by one person with direct knowledge as preliminary and ongoing. Trump’s legal team is seeking clarification on whether the president would be interviewed directly by Mueller, as well as the legal standard for when a president can be interviewed, the location of a possible interview, the topics and the duration. But the president’s team is also seeking potential compromises that could avoid an interview altogether, two of those interviewed told NBC News.
This seems very strange indeed. Why would Trump’s attorneys contemplate allowing Trump to be interrogated at all, in person or in writing? No one has to answer questions, and there is some precedent to suggest that a sitting president has more standing to decline such requests. Submitting to an interrogation immediately puts any client in danger of a perjury trap.
And let’s face it — that danger is more acute for Trump, thanks to his off-the-cuff style of talking and easily provoked anger. Attorneys prepare clients to be disciplined and unflappable for depositions and interrogations, two qualities which would take decades if not centuries to instill into Trump. In an interrogation, Trump and his legal team would have no idea what Mueller may have uncovered and would be making statements blindly. Skilled investigators like Mueller and his lieutenants build their careers on manipulating subjects into costly admissions and contradictions to get convictions in court. Skilled attorneys don’t put their clients in that position.
Of course, blowing off investigators would have some political impact on Trump, which is why Alan Dershowitz thinks his defense team is contemplating the idea:
Criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz called the Trump team’s maneuvers “gamesmanship. It’s what any criminal defense attorney would do.”
“I would never let the prosecution interview my client,” said Dershowitz, “but I don’t represent the president of the United States, and presidents don’t want to plead the Fifth. So this route makes sense.”
All due respect to Professor Dershowitz, but noooo, it does not. Trump’s been calling this a witch hunt from day one. Whether or not anyone else believes that, he’s already made the case for refusing to personally cooperate with it. Whatever political hit Trump takes in a refusal will be countered by his consistency on that point, and likely would not last long. It would be a lot more politically damaging to talk oneself into an indictment, no?
There are only two ways this makes any sense at all. The first is if Trump’s attorneys think they can close down the investigation by having Trump submit to an interrogation. But what’s he going to say to do that, other than what Trump’s been saying publicly all along?
The second way this makes sense is if Trump’s attorneys think Mueller has something on Trump and need to have Trump talk his way out of it. If they push ahead with this interrogation, that’s the only logical conclusion. Other than incompetence, of course.