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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

Updated 2 hours ago - Health

California surpasses 50,000 COVID-19 deaths

A man prepares a funeral arrangement in in Los Angeles, California, Feb. 12. Photo: Mario Tama/Getty Images

California's death toll from COVID-19 surpassed 50,000 on Wednesday, per Johns Hopkins data.

The big picture: It's the first state to record more than 50,000 deaths from the coronavirus.

3 hours ago - Technology

Facebook bans Myanmar military

A protester holds a placard with a three-finger salute in front of a military tank parked aside the street in front of the Central Bank building during a demonstration in Yangon, Myanmar. Photo by Aung Kyaw Htet/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

Facebook said on Wednesday it would ban the rest of the Myanmar military from its platform.

The big picture: It comes some three weeks after the military overthrew the civilian government in a coup and detained leader Aung San Suu Kyi, causing massive protests to erupt throughout the country. Military leaders have been using internet blackouts to try to maintain power in light of the coup.

It's harder to fill the Cabinet

Data: Chamberlain, 2020, "United States of America Cabinet Appointments Dataset" Chart: Will Chase/Axios

It's harder now for presidents to win Senate confirmation for their Cabinet picks, an Axios data analysis of votes for and against nominees found.

Why it matters: It's not just Neera Tanden. The trend is a product of growing polarization, rougher political discourse and slimming Senate majorities, experts say. It means some of the nation's most vital federal agencies go without a leader and the legislative authority that comes with one.