At a press conference in June, a reporter asked Donald Trump whether he’d be willing to answer questions about the Russia scandal under oath. “One hundred percent,” the president responded.
As we discussed last week, Trump’s position on this has evolved. Asked at a press conference at Camp David whether he’s still committed to speaking with Mueller, Trump hedged, refusing to answer the question directly. A few days later, at an event alongside the prime minister of Norway, Trump faced a similar question. The Republican’s response was long, meandering, and not altogether coherent, but he concluded that it “seems unlikely” that he’d answer the special counsel’s questions.If today’s reporting from the Washington Post is any indication, Trump may need to change his posture once more.
Special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is seeking to question President Trump in the coming weeks about his decisions to oust national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James B. Comey, according to two people familiar with his plans.
Mueller’s interest in the events that led Trump to push out Flynn and Comey indicates that his investigation is intensifying its focus on possible efforts by the president or others to obstruct or blunt the special counsel’s probe.
This dovetails with a story that’s been brewing of late. NBC News reported two weeks ago, for example, that the logistics and scope of an interview between the special counsel’s team and Trump were the subject of discussion among the relevant lawyers. Bloomberg Politics reported soon after that talks between Trump’s legal team and Mueller’s team are “expected to continue … despite comments from Trump suggesting an interview is unlikely.”
With this in mind, the Post added that the president’s attorneys “have crafted some negotiating terms for the president’s interview with Mueller’s team, one that could be presented to the special counsel as soon as next week, according to the two people.”
As for the nature of the conversation, the Post’s article went on to say that Trump, under the current plan, would like to answer some questions in an in-person interview, while answering others in writing, which is also consistent with NBC News’ recent reporting. (Why the president would find it necessary to turn part of the Q&A into a take-home exam is unclear.)
It’s the subject of interest, however, that continues to stand out: if the special counsel is focused specifically on possible obstruction of justice, it suggests the president may be facing legal jeopardy.
In November, Trump said, “As far as I’m concerned, I haven’t been told that we’re under investigation, I’m not under investigation.” It may be a good idea to revisit that.