Just weeks after President Donald Trump wrote out the answers to a series of questions from Robert Mueller, the special counsel is pressing to interview the president face to face, sources have told CNN.
“Nothing has changed in that sense from the first day,” one source said.
And the Trump camp is resisting.
In one area of interest, Mueller wants to get to Trump’s “state of mind” regarding possible obstruction of justice in the investigation into any Russian collusion with the Trump campaign to manipulate the U.S. presidential election, a source told CNN.
After months of wrangling, Mueller finally agreed in September to allow Trump to write out answers to his questions. Mueller did not say, however, he was forfeiting any future demand for an interview.
Trump provided the answers shortly before Thanksgiving. The questions dealt only with possible collusion between the Kremlin and the Trump campaign.
Trump’s lawyers are believed to be terrified that the president wouldn’t be able to not grandstand — and lie — in a Mueller interview while Trump is under oath, potentially opening him up to perjury charges.
In 2007, Trump was caught lying 30 times during a deposition that was part of his lawsuit against Tim O’Brien, author of the book Trump Nation. Trump lost.
According to Bob Woodward’s book Fear: Trump in the White House, Trump’s former personal lawyer John Dowd frequently pleaded with the president not to agree to be interviewed by Mueller. If he did sit down with Mueller, Dowd warned Trump, he would probably be charged with perjury and end up in an “orange jumpsuit,” Woodward wrote.
“I’ll be a real good witness,” the president insisted.
“You are not a good witness,” Dowd told Trump. Dowd, who has denied Woodward’s account, resigned shortly after that reported conversation in March of this year.
Van Jones, former special adviser to President Barack Obama, said Friday on CNN that the “reality is everybody knows that Trump can’t talk without lying. His lawyers are terrified that if he opens his mouth, he cannot tell the truth and would wind up going to jail.”
Nevertheless, Jones said, “Mueller is not going to let this go.”