But legal experts also credited the president’s lawyers for limiting their client’s own interactions with Mr. Mueller while cooperating elsewhere, providing more than a million documents and dozens of witnesses to the investigation and declining to shield information on grounds of executive privilege. Mr. Mueller wrote in his report that his team wanted to ask the president more questions than the limited set he responded to in November 2018. They debated whether to pursue a subpoena but ultimately decided it wasn’t worth prolonging the investigation to do so.

Mr. Trump’s lawyers “played a game of chicken” with the special counsel and won, said Lawrence Robbins, a veteran Washington litigator who has defended clients in perjury and obstruction cases. He said the legal team’s decisions undoubtedly helped the president.