Apparently realizing that their client is a pathological liar and likely has something to hide - perhaps a very great deal to hide - Donald Trump's attorneys are telling him to refuse to be interviewed by Robert Mueller's Russiagate investigation team. No doubt Trump's attorneys have visions of charges of lying to the FBI and/or damaging admissions. Of course, should Trump refuse to voluntarily agree to the interview, he could find himself facing a grand jury subpoena which could set the stage for contempt charges if he ignores the subpoena or perjury charges if he lies under oath. Another option is for Trump to appear before the grand jury and invoke the 5th Amendment and refuse to testify. The political fallout of such an action, however, would be the assumption in the minds of many - perhaps a great majority - Americans that invoking the 5th Amendment is tantamount to an admission of guilt. A piece in the New York Times looks at the tightening noose around Trump. As Richard Nixon learned, even the occupant of the White House is not exempt from a grand jury subpoena, Here are article highlights:
Lawyers for President Trump have advised him against sitting down for a wide-ranging interview with the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, according to four people briefed on the matter, raising the specter of a months long court battle over whether the president must answer questions under oath.
His lawyers are concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators.
Mr. Trump’s decision about whether to speak to prosecutors, expected in the coming weeks, will shape one of the most consequential moments of the investigation. Refusing to sit for an interview opens the possibility that Mr. Mueller will subpoena the president to testify before a grand jury, setting up a court fight that would dramatically escalate the investigation and could be decided by the Supreme Court.
Rejecting an interview with Mr. Mueller also carries political consequences. It would be certain to prompt accusations that the president is hiding something, and a court fight could prolong the special counsel inquiry, casting a shadow over Republicans as November’s midterm elections approach or beyond into the president’s re-election campaign.
The lawyers and aides believe the special counsel might be unwilling to subpoena the president and set off a showdown with the White House that Mr. Mueller could lose in court.
One of the few voices arguing for cooperating with Mr. Mueller is Ty Cobb, the White House lawyer whom Mr. Trump also brought on to deal with Mr. Mueller’s investigation. Since Mr. Cobb was hired in July, he has argued that the White House should do everything possible to cooperate with Mr. Mueller’s investigation.
Others close to Mr. Trump have also cautioned him against a freewheeling interview. Marc E. Kasowitz, the president’s longtime personal lawyer from New York who initially dealt with the special counsel after Mr. Mueller took over the Russia investigation last May, has also consistently said that the president should not agree to the interview.
Newt Gingrich, the former House speaker and an informal adviser to Mr. Trump, echoed that advice. “The idea of putting Trump in a room with five or six hardened, very clever lawyers, all of whom are trying to trick him and trap him, would be a very, very bad idea,” Mr. Gingrich said last month on “Fox and Friends.”
Richard M. Nixon refused to turn over to the special prosecutor investigating him tapes of incriminating conversations with aides. The matter eventually went before the Supreme Court, which ruled in 1974 that the president, like every American, was not above the law and had to comply with the special prosecutor’s request.
“The upshot of the Nixon tapes case was that any president is going to have an extremely hard time resisting a request from a law enforcement officer,” said Neal K. Katyal, an acting solicitor general in the Obama administration and a partner at the law firm Hogan Lovells. . . . . running away from a prosecutor isn’t consistent with faithfully executing the laws.”
Mr. Trump’s penchant for bravado has been a factor that his lawyers must contend with. The president has bragged to some aides that he would be able to clear himself if he talked to Mr. Mueller’s team.
When pressed, he also said he would be willing to be questioned under oath. Questioning by Mr. Mueller would not be under oath, though lying to federal investigators is a crime.
Privately, people close to the president have conceded that assuring Mr. Trump that the investigation would end by a certain date was primarily aimed at keeping him from antagonizing Mr. Mueller on his Twitter feed or in interviews.
Trump needs to testify and if he lies (something that I view as a foregone conclusion), he needs to be charged with crimes and removed from office.