Attorney Jay Sekulow announced on Wednesday that Donald Trump’s legal team was preparing to send a reply to the latest proposal from Special Counsel Robert Mueller. Both Sekulow and Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani had previously indicated that the latest reply from Mueller offered to drop several areas of questioning and to accept some answers in a written form. However, the proposal for an interview clearly did not please Trump, who followed its receptions with a lengthy series of tweets attacking Mueller and his team, as well as calling on Attorney General Jefferson Sessions to immediately end the investigation.
On Monday, the Washington Post reported that Rudy Giuliani had one big area of concern about any talk between Trump and the special counsel’s office: Obstruction. In explaining why he didn’t want Trump to talk about obstruction, Giuliani fell back on accusations that the special counsel’s office was fishing for perjury charges, and again said that Trump was within the powers of his office in firing James Comey. But Comey is not the only, or even the main, instance of obstruction on the part of Trump. Even those anger-tweets that Trump fired off in response to the latest Mueller offer were just another of many levels of compounded pressure Trump has placed on Sessions and others at the Justice Department in an attempt to limit, or end, the Russia investigation. From his actions regarding intelligence reports to the excuse he dictated from Air Force One, Trump has taken a number of actions that were clearly designed to impede, mislead, or derail the investigation.
Giuliani seemed to admit as much on Wednesday, when as Politico reports, Giuliani admitted that the letter they were sending to Mueller would include an offer to “allow” him to ask about obstruction. However, Giuliani also said that Trump isn’t ready to talk to Mueller. His legal team hasn’t begun “prep sessions” to help Trump through any testimony and, considering that Trump both has a notably short attention span and a profound tendency to lie even when a lie isn’t required, that prep time could be rather lengthy. Giuliani wasn’t certain that, even if Mueller took their latest offer as written, Trump would be ready for his time in front of the FBI before the midterm elections in November.
All of which would seem to suggest that earlier musing that Mueller’s team would be ready to turn in its report well before the votes were cast in the fall looks like wishful thinking. The first of two Manafort trials are underway. Sentencing of George Papadopoulos is coming up. But it’s been increasingly clear that Mueller’s team is still intent on the core questions of collusion and obstruction—and that Trump is at the center of both those questions.
In the spirit of the ratings assigned to congressional districts, here are your current:
08/08/2018 Indictment Ratings
|Solid Conspiracy||R. Stone, A. Nevins|
|Leans Conspiracy||D. Trump Jr., C. Page, E. Prince, M. Cohen, R. DeSantis|
|Tossup||D. Trump, J. Kushner, R. Gerson, B. Parscale, S. Bannon|
|Solid Obstruction||R. Stone|
|Leans Obstruction||D. Trump, D. Trump Jr.|
At the moment, it’s clear that Trump’s campaign attempted to conspire with the Russian government, as did Republican strategist Aaron Nevins and Trump advisor Roger Stone. However, it’s less clear that Trump was knowledgeable enough about the details of this conspiracy to be a co-conspirator, indicted or not.
On the obstruction front, Stone gets another A+ for his consistent efforts in lying about what he knew, when he knew, and what he did. Trump and Trump Jr. get bumped up on this side specifically because of their yeoman work in attempting to shovel FUD over the Trump Tower meeting.