In the same March 5 meeting where special counsel Robert Mueller informed Donald Trump’s lawyers the pr*sident wasn’t a “target” of his investigation, he also told Team Trump he could issue a subpoena to compel Trump’s testimony. The Washington Post writes:
In a tense meeting in early March with the special counsel, President Trump’s lawyers insisted he had no obligation to talk with federal investigators probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.
But special counsel Robert S. Mueller III responded that he had another option if Trump declined: He could issue a subpoena for the president to appear before a grand jury, according to four people familiar with the encounter. […]
The flare-up set in motion weeks of turmoil among Trump’s attorneys as they debated how to deal with the special counsel’s request for an interview, a dispute that ultimately led to [John] Dowd’s resignation.
Following that meeting, the Post reports Mueller’s team agreed to furnish Trump’s lawyers with the topics on which they hoped to query Trump—i.e. “the list” published by the New York Times Monday.
With those details in hand, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow compiled a list of 49 questions that the team believed the president would be asked…
Yesterday, we got our first look at a broad set of questions federal investigators wanted more information on from Trump. Today, we learn Mueller’s team effectively threatened to subpoena Trump if he didn’t sit for an interview. What’s it all add up to? Likely, it’s the beginning of the end of whatever comity existed between the two camps.
“It’s much more likely than it was three weeks ago that Mueller will serve a subpoena, Trump will try to quash it, and we’re off to the races in the federal courts,” Constitutional law scholar Harry Litman told MSNBC Tuesday night.
If Mueller does issue a subpoena, the only way Trump could avoid testifying is if he pleaded the Fifth, according to former federal prosecutor Renato Mariotti.