Donald Trump’s lawyers are reportedly discouraging him from talking to special counsel Robert Mueller, potentially setting up a legal standoff at the highest level of government.
An investigation into potential connections between Mr Trump’s presidential campaign and Russian election meddling efforts, led by Mr Mueller, has steadily drawn closer to the President even as Mr Trump denounces the probe as politically warped and unfounded. So far, Mr Mueller has indicted multiple former Trump campaign aides.
Last month Mr Trump said he would be willing to be interviewed by Mr Mueller, telling reporters “I’m looking forward to it”.
“There’s been no collusion whatsoever. There’s no obstruction whatsoever”, Mr Trump told reporters.
But now Mr Trump’s lawyers are discouraging that openness out of fear that the President’s own words could place him in legal jeopardy by exposing him to lying to investigators, according to the New York Times.
That advised refusal could set up a test of a setting President’s ability to shield himself from a legal inquiry, particularly if Mr Mueller’s team seeks to compel Mr Trump’s testimony with a subpoeana.
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The President and his attorneys have consistently maintained he has nothing to hide and expressed confidence that Mr Mueller’s investigation would clear him of any wrongdoing. But Mr Trump has at times throughout Mr Mueller’s investigation made statements that contradict or undercut his surrogates.
At one point Mr Trump confirmed that his decision to fire then-FBI director James Comey involved “this Russia thing”, clashing with prior statements from White House officials. Mr Mueller’s investigation is said to have focused in part on Mr Comey’s dismissal.