In January, Donald Trump surprised White House reporters with some unscheduled comments. Though it was unclear at the time whether the president would ever answer questions as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, Trump said the discussion was just weeks away.
"I'm looking forward to it, actually," Trump said, adding that he'd "love to" talk to the special counsel investigators. The president went on to say he's "absolutely" prepared to answer questions under oath.
A great deal has changed since January. Trump and his team have since adopted a vastly more antagonistic posture toward the special counsel's probe, and in the latest move, the president's defense team is making fresh demands ahead of a possible interview.
President Trump's lawyer Rudolph W. Giuliani said Tuesday that Trump will not agree to an interview with the special counsel until prosecutors allow the president's legal team to review documents related to the FBI's use of a source to interact with members of Trump's 2016 campaign."We need all the documents before we can decide whether we are going to do an interview," Giuliani said in an interview with The Washington Post, using Trump's term "spygate" to refer to the FBI actions, which former officials have said were well within bounds.
First, there's already a bipartisan consensus that the "Spygate" conspiracy theory is baseless, and for Rudy Giuliani to pretend otherwise is pitiful.
Second, Giuliani's demand is impossible to defend. Trump already went too far directing federal law enforcement to brief members of Congress on a confidential human source during an ongoing investigation, and now the former mayor expects the FBI to open its files to the subject of a probe before it's complete?
And third, I'm starting to get the sense that maybe, just maybe, the president and his team are reluctant to fully cooperate with this investigation.
Trump will answer Mueller's questions, the president's lawyers said, but only if the interview can be done in writing.
Trump will answer Mueller's questions, the president's lawyers said, but only if the special counsel agreed to end his investigation 60 days later.
Trump will answer Mueller's questions, the president's lawyers said, but only if the special counsel agreed in advance to curtail the scope of the interview.
Trump will answer Mueller's questions, the president's lawyers said, but only if they get unprecedented access to private FBI files in advance.
Those who constantly move goalposts rarely enjoy the high ground.
I'm reminded of a recent quote from the former FBI director whom Trump fired in the hopes of derailing the investigation into the Russia scandal. "In a normal world, it would be very hard for the president of the United States not to submit to an interview in connection with an investigation that touches upon ... his conduct and that of people around him," Comey told Axios. "In a normal world, the American people would find that very, very difficult to accept."
It looks like we'll soon find out whether Comey was correct.