I’ve seen it repeatedly speculated that special counsel Robert Mueller and his team already have the facts as they go into each interview, and are only really interviewing to find out how much the interviewees will lie about those facts. IANAL, so I’ve had to trust others who claim to be more expert on this when they say this is a typical strategy in such investigations.
Now, courtesy of the Washington Post, we have some confirmation.
People who have appeared before Mueller’s team say prosecutors have detailed accounts of events, sometimes to the minute, and have surprised witnesses by showing them emails or documents they were unaware that the team had or that their colleagues had written.
I happily interpret this to mean not only that the team is indeed using this strategy, but that they’ve done their homework very well.
One person said Mueller’s team has asked about Trump’s private comments around key events and how he explained decisions.
“They are looking for a pattern,” said this person, who has spoken with Mueller’s team and requested anonymity to speak about a federal investigation.
Considering that topics mentioned in the story are Trump’s firing of Michael Flynn, firing of James Comey and possible attempted ouster of Jeff Sessions, I think the above-quoted anonymous person means a pattern of obstruction of justice. I doubt the Mueller team is having a hard time finding it. Bloomberg is now saying the obstruction aspect of the investigation is almost complete. Low-hanging fruit, anyone?
Other interesting items from this article:
Trump has previously criticized the wide-ranging investigation into his administration, calling it a “hoax” and a “witch hunt,” while alternatively saying he would probably testify or that he may not need to testify.
Those alternative positions are a Trump strategy, aimed to provide unpredictability, keeping his adversaries guessing. “Confuse the enemy,” you might say. He’s bragged about it. No need to be confused; it’s a strategy.
His current position is that the interview will happen “in the next two or three weeks.” Oh and: “I would love to do it, and I would like to do it as soon as possible,” which I think is probably the most extreme lie that has ever issued from those loathsome lips, albeit one of the more enjoyable ones.
He also said that he would outdo Hillary Clinton by being interviewed under oath when she was not. Well. There’s a few little differences in their histories, i.e. he has extensive financial links to mobsters in Russia and elsewhere, regularly screws over contractors, has sexual assault claims against him in the double digits, lies every time his lips move, etc. (need I go on?) and she has none of these things. But WaPo also explains:
Republicans have repeatedly suggested that the FBI went easy on Clinton in her questioning in part because she was not under oath for that interview. But FBI interviews are typically not conducted under oath, and it is still a crime to lie to an FBI agent. Clinton could have faced criminal charges if investigators had concluded she had lied to them.
The reporters had gathered in an impromptu scrum “to speak with senior officials for a background briefing about immigration.” But Trump walked in unannounced and began talking about the investigation and his interview. Not surprisingly, “Trump’s remarks took White House officials by surprise.” You’d think they’d be getting used to it now, but each of his lawyers has a deepening head-shaped dent in his desk because:
The president’s lawyers have repeatedly encouraged him not to post tweets or make comments about the investigation without their knowledge, saying such comments could damage him.
Donald Trump‘s lawyer appeared to backtrack on the US President’s claim that he would be willing to be interviewed “under oath” by Robert Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.
Ty Cobb said Mr Trump “spoke hurriedly” and only intended to say that he would be willing to meet with special counsel.
“He’s ready to meet with them, but he’ll be guided by the advice of his personal counsel,” Mr Cobb told the New York Times.
In their dreams.
The president’s statements suggest that he sees an obstruction-of-justice investigation as an unfair attack on attempts by him or others to mount a defense.
In other words, he just sees hindering the investigation against him as legitimate defense, not obstruction of justice. This is why he was so forthcoming to Lester Holt on national TV that he fired Comey due to the Russia investigation; he genuinely thinks he did nothing wrong.
That thinking extends to all Trump’s other crimes too. He keeps saying “there was no collusion” because collusion is a bad thing, such a nasty, evil-sounding word, and what he actually did is accept aid from his dear friends including his very dearest friend Vladimir, in return for a little aid to them. Everyone should and therefore will understand that in his case such actions are legitimate because his interests are at stake. Because he’s him, you know. His interests naturally take precedence over those of the seven billion mere peons on the planet.
This is malignant narcissistic personality disorder in action. But it’s about to run into the cold reality of something it truly does not understand: rule of law.
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CharlesII notes in a comment:
Trump is capable of doing anything to stay in power…including creating a national emergency so that he can outright seize power.
Which reminded me I had forgotten to cite another interesting bit of the WaPo article. They spoke to Trump’s friend Chris Ruddy:
Ruddy said Mueller’s investigation isn’t about “Russian collusion.”
“It’s about anything and everything they can find,” he said. “This is moving rapidly, extremely fast.”
A concern that Trump might go rogue may be fueling that haste. “Anything and everything they find,” as I understand, is Mueller’s mandate.