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Trump's Lawyers Finally Ready to Answer Mueller Questions
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12 Oct 2018 12:29 PM EST

By Laura Tucker, Staff writer; Image: Donald Trump (Image source: Public domain)

 

 

It looks like we may finally be getting to the nitty gritty of special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation. After multiple plea deals and guilty verdicts, there is finally an agreement between Mueller's office and Donald Trump for the president to answer some questions, though in what seems like a very limited capacity. 

The FBI has been investigating whether there was Russian interference into the 2016 presidential election for months before Trump was eventually elected. Once he took office, it appeared some people connected to his campaign had some type of involvement with the Russians, and it raised questions of collusion between Russia and the president's campaign.

 

The first person to take a fall was former national security advisor Michael Flynn. Information came to light that he wasn't honest with the FBI or Mike Pence about his communication with Sergey Kislyak, the Russian ambassador to the U.S. He resigned just a few weeks into Trump's presidency. 

Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the investigation because of his own connections, leaving it in Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein's hands.

 

The next to be fired was former FBI Director James Comey. Trump maintained at the time that he fired him because of his handling of the Hillary Clinton email investigation, but soon there were things being said that indicated it was because he refused to end the Russia investigation. Rosenstein hired Mueller as special counsel to investigate the possibility of collusion and obstruction of justice. 

That was in May 2017, and things have never slowed down. There have been multiple people connected to Trump's campaign that were indicted. Some took plea deals, promising to cooperate with Mueller, while some, like Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort, held out.

 

Things really came together even more once Trump's personal attorney, Michael Cohen, was raided with the FBI looking for evidence of payments to silence alleged mistresses before the election, campaign finance violations. And there are audio tapes of Cohen and Trump talking about the payments which proves he knew about it ad that he was trying to influence the election results by keeping his former mistresses quiet. 

All of the people who were indicted, other than a number of Russians, havereached plea deals or pled guilty. There has never been anyone acquitted. Some have been sentenced. If there is more information to be found, that would have come from Manafort and Cohen agreeing to plea deals. The two have not been sentenced yet, ostensibly because the investigation still needs their testimony.

 

For nearly a year Trump and his attorneys and Mueller have been trying to agree on terms for the president to answer questions relating to the possible collusion and obstruction of justice. He has maintained innocence throughout and that the whole thing is a "witch hunt." 

Written questions were provided and leaked to the press, and Trump's team balked at him answering them. It was then suggested that if he didn't answer, he would be subpoenaed, leading to questions on whether a president can be subpoenaed.

 

Both sides seemed at an impasse. Perhaps complicating matters was the revolving door on Trump's legal team. Cohen was out for obvious reasons, and others have left voluntarily as well.  

This brought former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani to the team with the thought he could reach a compromise for the Trump interview and put a swift end to the investigation. But instead, it's six months later, there have been many more bombshells, the investigation is still ongoing, and Trump has not been interviewed yet.

 

That list of questions has been going back and forth between the two sides, with no agreement. At one point Mueller agreed to accept written answers but wanted to reserve the right to question Trump in person. That's where the two sides differed. The president's team did not want him to submit to anything in person, most likely because he has a tendency to run his mouth, and they couldn't be sure of what he would say. 

Now sources familiar with the matter have said Trump's legal team is finally preparing answers for Mueller's questions. "We are in continuing discussions with the special counsel, and we do not comment on those discussions," was all Jay Sekulow, another of Trump's attorneys, would say.

 

Trump was asked about answering the special counsel's questions on Thursday, and he indicated he was still willing to sit for an interview or provide written responses. He has seemed willing since the beginning to answer questions in person, confident his answers would end the investigation. 

"It seems ridiculous that I'd have to do it when everybody says there's no collusion, but I'll do what is necessary to get it over with," he said via phone in a Fox News interview.

 

Of course, this isn't the truth. The only ones who have said there is no collusion are Trump and people directly under him. And once they reach plea deals, more evidence is leaked to the contrary.  

Trump finally answering questions could mean this is the last step in the investigation and that the special counsel is getting ready to wrap it up. But it's very hard to tell, as Mueller has never tipped his hand, and it's unclear what will happen next, as the two sides have not agreed on what will happen after the written questions, whether there will be a face-to-face interview or not.

 

From the information that has been leaked or otherwise released, it has seemed like there must be enough evidence between the major players to lead to a confirmation of collusion and obstruction.  

As special counsel, Mueller will be compiling a report and won't be acting on it himself, it will be up to lawmakers regarding impeachment, making next month's midterm elections take on increased importance. If the Democrats wrest control of the House, expect that a report confirming collusion and obstruction will lead to an impeachment. If the GOP retains control, it's anybody's guess what will happen if the report indicates guilt.

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