Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.


Speical Counsel Robert Mueller is insisting on a sit-down interview with President Donald Trump to discuss the Russia investigation. (Photo: AP)

Mueller Refuses Trump Lawyers' Request to Respond in Writing to Interview Questions

"If Trump lies to investigators, he risks prosecution for knowingly making a false statement to federal agents."

Jessica Corbett

Following the leak of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's questions for President Donald Trump regarding the Russia investigation, and conflicting comments by Trump and his new attorney, Rudy Giuliani, Mueller has reportedly rejected a request by Trump's legal team to answer the questions in writing rather than in person.

While Trump has repeatedly said he is willing to answer Mueller's questions in person, the president's legal team requested the written format because, as CBS News pointed out, "it helps protect Mr. Trump from the possibility of lying or misleading investigators, which is a criminal offense."

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday evening that Trump's lawyers hope to decide by May 17 whether to agree to a sit-down interview between Trump and Mueller—who already has said he will subpoena the president if the two sides cannot reach an agreement.

Giuliani told CBS correspondent Paula Reid that Trump would fight a subpoena—which would likely lead to a Supreme Court standoff—but since Mueller denied their request for written responses, formal negotiations to arrange a possible interview could occur in the coming weeks.

Giuliani added that he wants any potential meeting to take place after a highly anticipated summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, as "he believes that it would take several days to prepare the president for this kind of interview and he would not want to take [Trump] away from preparing for talks with North Korea."

Citing a source familiar with the matter, the Journal noted that "in an informal, four-hour practice session, Mr. Trump's lawyers were only able to walk him through two questions, given the frequent interruptions on national-security matters along with Mr. Trump's loquaciousness."

Trump's legal team, according to Giuliani, also has a list of demands: They want some topics to be "off-limits," to set a time limit for the interview, and "to know whether the interview would become public, and whether they would have the chance to issue a rebuttal to anything alleged by the special counsel."

Regarding a potential interview with Mueller, Trump "is in a bind of his own making," ethics and legal experts Norm Eisen, Noah Bookbinder, and Barry Berke wrote for Politico last week. 

"By volunteering straightforward answers about his conduct, he risks strengthening the case that he obstructed justice and implicating himself in the campaign's possible conspiracy with Russia," they explained. "If Trump lies to investigators, he risks prosecution for knowingly making a false statement to federal agents—the same offense to which his former associates Michael Flynn, George Papadopolous, and Rick Gates have already pleaded guilty."

The news of upcoming negotiations to arrange an interview comes as Trump is experiencing significant turnover with his legal team. Giuliani recently came aboard, while John Dowd has resigned and Ty Cobb, who is spearheading Trump's defense from within the White House, plans to leave by the end of May.

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

... We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Sanders Calls on Biden to Slash 'Outrageous' Medicare Premium Hike

"It would be absolutely unacceptable to force 57 million senior citizens to pay $11.50 more a month in Medicare premiums" due to Big Pharma's greed, the Vermont senator said.

Jake Johnson ·

'Biden's Oily Christmas': Climate Campaigners Call Out Public Lands Giveaways

"His Interior Department has plowed forward with new oil and gas lease sales that wreck our public lands and exacerbate climate change—all while enriching the CEOs of big oil corporations."

Jessica Corbett ·

'Indefensible': Outrage Over Man in Wheelchair Fatally Shot in the Back by Arizona Cop

Richard Lee Richards was shot nine times in the back and side by a Tucson officer, who has since been fired, earlier this week.

Brett Wilkins ·

'Global Empire of the US Christian Right': Dark Money Fuels Attacks on Abortion Rights Worldwide

The findings of a new investigation, said one observer, "further demonstrate the growing trend of religious extremists forging cross-border alliances" to gut abortion rights.

Jake Johnson ·

Public Health Experts Slam 'Grossly Inadequate,' Industry-Friendly Covid Test Reimbursement Scheme

"We need this administration to be courageous," said one physician. "This is not it at all."

Julia Conley ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.

Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo