President Trump has reportedly been advised by his lawyers not to agree to an interview under oath with special counsel Robert S. Mueller’s legal team.
Citing “four people briefed on the matter,” the New York Times reported Monday evening that there may be a split brewing between the brash former real-estate tycoon and cautious attorneys who fear a “perjury trap.”
“His lawyers are concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators,” the Times reported.
According to the Times, Mr. Trump is being advised against a Mueller interview by longtime Washington defense lawyer John Dowd, his deputy Jay Sekulow and others in the West Wing. Those lawyers do not believe Mr. Mueller has the legal power under the special-counsel authorization to probe certain matters, including constitutional exercises of presidential power, and that the president will win a legal showdown over whether a president can be compelled to testify.
However, attorney Ty Cobb, recently brought on to the White House team to deal with the Mueller probe, has been arguing for cooperation.
The Times’ sources say some Trump advisers not only fear the optics of refusing to testify, implying the president is hiding something, but also the long legal fight and potential Supreme Court case over presidential power should Mr. Mueller attempt to subpoena Mr. Trump in the event of a refusal.
Those politicians known to be close to Mr. Trump who have spoken on the matter publicly — such as former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie — have said Mr. Trump should not agree to a Mueller interview.
“The idea of putting Trump in a room with five or six hardened, very clever lawyers, all of whom are trying to trick him and trap him, would be a very, very bad idea,” Mr. Gingrich said last month on “Fox and Friends.”
Mr. Trump himself has been rather less cautious, at least in his public words.
“I’m looking forward to it, actually,” he said in January.
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