An unnamed White House official has informed CNN that Pr*sident Donald Trump’s legal team has begun prepping him for an interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Russia investigation. The effort is “in its infancy,” according to a source familiar with the preparations. And these proceedings do not necessarily mean a decision has been made to undergo Mueller’s questioning. Even though Trump himself has indicated a willingness, even an eagerness, to submit to an interview with Mueller, his advisers view this as quite risky.
And two people not on the team offered some unsolicited advice in the matter this week. In an op-ed essay in The Washington Post on Wednesday, Ed Rogers, a political consultant and a veteran of the Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush White Houses and several national campaigns, wrote that Chris Christie had it right in an interview:
On ABC’s “This Week,” the former New Jersey governor said Trump “should never walk into that room with Robert Mueller.” If he does, Christie suggested, the president’s affinity for the “hyperbolic” could set in, and when dealing with federal agents, “that can send you to jail.” There you have it: an interview could lead to jail.
With the revelation that Trump is not a target but a subject of Mueller’s investigation, the best advice Trump can take is to say less. He will be fine if he freezes the board and keeps everything exactly the way it is. Of course, Trump’s instincts and ego could tell him “I got this” and that he should talk to Mueller. But, as Christie made clear, an interview with the special counsel would be fraught with danger. […]
More than anything else, it is likely the president would say the wrong thing or, quite possibly, something that just isn’t true. If that happens, the wheels could really come off.
And then there was Friday’s advice from Roger Stone—once an informal adviser to Trump who has serious potential problems of his own in the Russia investigation—who reinforced Rogers’ view that the pr*sident shouldn’t let himself be questioned by Mueller:
During a CNN interview, Stone warned of a potential “perjury trap” for the president, saying Mueller could probe “some process-related crime that doesn’t relate to Russia.”
“I obviously believe the special counsel has a political bias, as demonstrated by the FBI text messages and emails that have surfaced and the political nature of this investigation, so I think it is very dangerous for the President to do so,” Stone said.
In other words, Trump shouldn’t agree to be interviewed because he is a notorious liar known for an inability to stay on topic or keep his lips zipped.
It’s not hard for these men, and presumably what’s left of Trump’s legal team, to imagine him doing what he has shown himself to be so capable of on a daily basis: making stuff up. A “perjury trap” can only work on people who have trouble telling the truth. Glenn Kessler and Meg Kelly at The Washington Post’s Fact-Checker chalked up 2,001 falsehoods or misleading statements Trump had made as of January 10, a rate of 5.6 instances a day of such fabrications. There’s no indication he has slowed down any since then.
Trump has hinted that if he did sit down for an interview, it would bring Mueller’s investigation quickly to an end. That publicly expressed confidence may not be so firm in private.
Internal discussions about the prospects of an interview haven’t yet concluded whether or not Trump would speak under oath to Mueller. But even if he were not to do do, he could still stumble into trouble by lying to the FBI, a felony.
Given Trump’s 5.6-lies-a-day rate, perhaps pundits and activists should run a campaign to spur Trump to agree to an interview simply by issuing a steady drumbeat of daring him to do so: C’mon, Mr. Pr*sident, you’ve told the nation you know more than just about anybody on just about every subject. So, obviously, you can easily outsmart Mueller. And then you can get back to putting your full attention on grifting the nation.