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Special counsel Robert Mueller at the Capitol. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

President Trump will not voluntarily answer questions about obstruction of justice, gambling that Robert Mueller won’t have the stomach for a court fight.

A source close to Trump’s legal team tauntingly tells us it’s “Mueller’s moment of truth.”

  •  If Trump agrees to an interview with the special counsel, questions about obstruction of justice are a "no-go," Rudy Giuliani tells AP's Jonathan Lemire.

Wait! Bob Woodward's book (which won't even be in stores for four more days) ... the anonymous Times op-ed ... the confirmation hearing for a change-the-balance Supreme Court justice ... have been momentarily eclipsed?

  • That's right. In a high-stakes move designed to force Robert Mueller's hand, Giuliani said Trump won't answer the feds' questions — in writing or in person — about whether he tried to block the probe into Russian election interference.

Giuliani later seemed to backtrack, telling NBC News that those questions are "not ruled in or out."

Jonathan Swan reads between the lines:

  • Giuliani is daring Mueller to issue a subpoena.
  • The president's team is itching for the fight.
  • Trump's lawyers are betting that Mueller won’t have the heart for the multi-month court fight that would result from trying to compel the president to be interviewed.
  • The White House bet: Mueller will blink and ultimately issue an incomplete report, avoiding the stakes of a court battle.
  • The source close to the president's team explained: "Mueller backed off from a demand for a face-to-face, to get to a compromise of written Q-and-A on Russia. And Rudy still says no. What is Mueller to do now?"

A source with direct knowledge of the Trump’s legal team machinations said "there is no strategy" beyond the PR tactic of threatening Mueller, and attempting to bruise him as much as possible.

Meanwhile, Mueller stays quiet. And gets ready.

Subscribe to Axios AM/PM for a daily rundown of what's new and why it matters, directly from Mike Allen.
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Go deeper

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Friday had already reached 61.7% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

Republicans gear up for day-of and post-Election Day litigation

Voters wait in line to cast their early ballots Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Republican Party officials say they're already looking to Pennsylvania, Minnesota and Nevada as likely battlegrounds for post-election lawsuits if the results are close.

The big picture: As pre-election lawsuits draw to a close, and with President Trump running behind Joe Biden in national and many battleground state polls, Republicans are turning their attention to preparations for Election Day and beyond, and potential recounts.