Gee, I wonder why? Rudy Giuliani told the Washington Post’s Robert Costa that Donald Trump’s legal team is about to draft an RSVP in the negative to Robert Mueller — at least as far as one particular topic goes. It’s no coincidence that it’s the topic most dependent on an admission from Trump:
“We have a real reluctance about allowing any questions about obstruction,” Giuliani said in an interview with The Washington Post when asked about the overarching theme of the letter.
He said he and other Trump lawyers have been discussing the details of a draft version of the letter in recent days and hope to send it to Mueller “sometime on Tuesday or Wednesday.”
Giuliani said he expects the letter to “continue the negotiations” rather than formally decline Mueller’s request.
“The president still hasn’t made a decision, and we’re not going to make a final decision just yet,” he said.
Allahpundit and I have both explained this ad nauseam, but it’s worth repeating: there is no good legal reason for Trump to answer questions about obstruction — at least from what we know of the investigation at this stage. So far, Trump has not been accused of doing anything outside of his authority in regard to the Russia probe. Trump had the authority to fire James Comey; he has the right to express his opinions about the conduct of the investigation, too. He has not shut it down, although technically that decision lies within his authority as well.
What matters in an obstruction case is intent. It’s not enough for a decision to be questionable or qualitatively bad; the action has to have a corrupt intent. Did Trump fire James Comey and/or support Michael Flynn with the intent to derail the investigation for corrupt purposes? Did any of his other actions have an obstructive intent, even while being fully within his authority? The only way to answer that is if (a) there are recordings of admissions by Trump to such corrupt intent (such as tapes, e-mails, letters, or possibly witness testimony), or (b) Trump admits it to investigators.
If Mueller has anything from (a), then Trump would probably need to sit down with prosecutors to establish his innocent intent. If Mueller doesn’t have anything from (a), then the last thing Trump should do is provide him with something from (b). If Trump’s legal team is pushing for no interview on obstruction, then they must believe that Mueller’s got nothing on obstruction and want to prevent his investigators from conducting a fishing expedition with their famously garrulous client. The last thing they need is a Code Red moment from A Few Good Men prompted by prosecutors who have a lot more skills than Aaron Sorkin or Tom Cruise.
Giuliani told Costa that Mueller doesn’t need to ask the questions anyway:
“But they are trying to get something on perjury and that’s not going to happen. The answers, with regard to [former national security adviser Michael T.] Flynn and the firing of [FBI Director James B.] Comey are already well known and they’re not going to change. He’d say the same thing in the interview that he’s said publicly.”
Giuliani added that Mueller “doesn’t need us. He’s got our explanation.”
Of course, public statements are not taken under oath, either. That’s what Giuliani wants to prevent — a perjury trap that will have the same impact as an obstruction charge against the president. The only question is whether Trump himself recognizes that danger and stops pledging to sit and talk with investigators looking to lay that kind of a trap. Trump should listen to his own attorneys more than his gut instincts in this case.
Or maybe Trump already got this spot-on advice from Judge Andrew Napolitano, as it appeared on his favorite morning show:
— FOX & friends (@foxandfriends) August 7, 2018