Rudy Giuliani’s job for Donald Trump is to bring this whole Russia (hoax/Witch Hunt!/probe/serious threat to Trump that has already indicted four members of his campaign and convicted a fifth person) investigation to a close, as quickly as possible. On Tuesday, the Washington Post reports that Giuliani sat down with Special Counsel Robert Mueller to inquire about just when this thing might be over. In response, Mueller reminded Giuliani of something he’s said before: He would rather appreciate an interview with Donald Trump.
Giuliani, who joined Trump’s legal team last week, conveyed the ongoing resistance of Trump and his advisers to an interview with federal investigators, but did not rule out the possibility, the people said, adding that Giuliani pressed Mueller for clarity on when the probe is expected to end.
Trump’s team is continuing the pretense that Mueller bringing Trump in for an interview risks setting some kind of precedent, and that it will only happen on Trump’s terms. But precedent was already set three administrations ago, when Bill Clinton was interviewed by Special Investigator Robert Fiske in the opening months of the Whitewater investigation.
The back-to-back questioning of the President and Mrs. Clinton represented the first time that a sitting President has given a deposition about his official conduct. It was apparently the first time a sitting First Lady has ever been interviewed by law-enforcement officials about her conduct while in the White House.
And even that wasn’t the real precedent. In 1980, Republicans demanded, and got, an appearance by Jimmy Carter before the DOJ’s Office of Professional Responsibility to discuss something as vital as the behavior of his brother Billy. Because Republicans are all about everybody-is-subject-to-the-law, so long as “everybody” isn’t a Republican.
Still, Trump remains “extremely opposed” to granting Mueller an interview, according to one close adviser — setting up a potential high-stakes legal battle between the White House and the special counsel, who could ultimately seek to try to subpoena the president.
Carter agreed to cooperate with the investigation by the Department of Justice. And did.
Clinton agreed to cooperate with the investigation by Special Investigator Fiske. And did.
Donald Trump has made noises over, and over, indicating that he’s cooperating with the investigation by Special Counsel Mueller. And he’s sending Rudy Giuliani in … because he’s not.
When Mueller’s office first broached the idea of an interview late last year, Trump initially was open to it, rejecting warnings from Dowd that such a move would be perilous, according to several advisers.
Dowd resigned in late March after disagreements with Trump about the interview.
But the president’s willingness to meet with the special counsel cooled dramatically when he learned earlier this month that his personal attorney Michael Cohen was under criminal investigation by federal prosecutors in Manhattan.
Michael Cohen is under investigation, because Michael Cohen appears to have committed crimes. A number of them. And not just in connection to protecting Donald Trump.
Giuliani wanted Mueller to tell him what could be done to speed the process, and Mueller told him—you have Trump sit for an interview. There’s no question that Mueller can force Trump to the table if he wants to. That’s another precedent that was set two decades ago.
Independent Counsel Ken Starr has issued a subpoena demanding that President Bill Clinton testify before grand jurors investigating the Monica Lewinsky case.
And in fact, Giuliani and Trump might want to worry about why Mueller has not just moved ahead with sending Trump a subpoena to appear. Because the unusual thing about the subpoena sent to Bill Clinton, wasn’t that it was coming to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It was that it was going to someone who later faced charges. Prosecutors try, whenever possible, not to bring those who are likely to face charges directly before the grand jury that delivers the indictments.
They prefer to sit down somewhere else, away from the jury. Just as Mueller is requesting from Trump.