Special counsel could subpoena Trump

Saul Bowman
May 3, 2018

In a startling revelation earlier this week, The New York Times published what it claims are 40 questions that special counsel Robert Mueller sent to lawyers for President Donald Trump.

In his tweet, Trump said there were "no questions on Collusion" and, as he as many times before, called Mueller's investigation a "Russian witch hunt".

They will also ascertain if there was collusion, as it would appear from questions about members of the Trump campaign meeting Russians - such as the Trump Tower meeting his son Donald Trump Jr and a Russian lawyer who had offered dirt on Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

But special counsel Robert Mueller is attempting to reach an agreement with Trump's lawyers for him to be cross-examined by Mueller's team concerning the collusion allegations and whether some of Trump's actions as president amount to "obstruction of justice".

Flood was always the top choice of White House counsel Don McGahn for the job Cobb was given last summer, according to a person familiar with the hiring decision who described Flood as a "fighter".

Cobb took the lead of the White House team after the previous lead lawyer, John Dowd, quit in March, convinced that Trump was not following his advice.

Cobb has been the point person for the President Donald Trump's White House regarding special counsel Robert Mueller's Russian Federation investigation.

John Dowd, one of the president's attorneys, confirmed that Mueller raised the prospect of a grand jury subpoena at a meeting in early March if the president refused to provide testimony.

It's still unclear whether Mueller's investigators will be able to ask Trump any questions - or whether these are the ones they would ask.

Those who predict that the confrontation with Mueller could be devastating - setting up a risky clash between the President's "truthiness" problem and the stringent requirements of the law - downplay how much of the investigation really depends on politics, not law. That would enable Trump to placate the special counsel short of a subpoena and also permit the White House to continue touting its cooperation with the investigation.

The leaked questions, which Mueller discussed with Trump's lawyers, hint that the special counsel has uncovered untoward behavior on the part of close Trump confidants that is not publicly known.

The assumption among many commentators is that a subpoena poses a huge risk to President Trump and, just as importantly, to Republicans in 2018 and 2020.

But so far Trump has resisted, and his lawyers are already signalling a possible showdown over his constitutional powers. Trump denies making such requests. But whether the president would be willing to do so is an open question.

Presidential advisers have been divided for months on whether Trump should speak to Mueller and his team.

The questions also reference television interviews that Trump has given. For all the Trump supporters who love him because he is a fighter, the Russian Federation investigation has become the kind of ideal foil that fiction writers dream about. And if he were to do that in an interview with Mueller, that could create legal problems.

Moreover, "they are about very specific acts and statements by Trump, and in many cases he has already spoken about them", Whiting said.

If Trump were to answer "no" and Gates told the grand jury that Trump did know of this, Mueller could claim Trump lied and ask the same grand jury to indict Trump for that. Trump's allies in Congress, led by House Speaker Paul Ryan, say they've received assurances from the White House that Mueller's dismissal is not in the offing. Meantime, in the House, Freedom Caucus members have drafted articles of impeachment against Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, Mueller's boss. Why so much redacting?

At about 9:30 on Wednesday, Trump tweeted again, quoting a former U.S. attorney who says such questions are an intrusion into the Constitutional powers of the president to fire anyone.

Trump lashed out against the investigation in familiar fashion Wednesday, tweeting: "There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap)". "Why such unequal 'justice?'" Trump tweeted Wednesday. "And I think they should understand by now, the Department of Justice is not going to be extorted".

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