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."
- But his message had been delivered, and the sides are clearly hardening their stances.
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.