Mueller probe spent US$4.5 million from October to March -Justice Department

Saul Bowman
June 5, 2018

Donald Trump's lawyers sent a private 20-page letter to the special counsel Robert Mueller to assert that he can not be forced to testify in the investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election, according to a report.

As part of his investigation, Mueller is looking into the possibility the Trump campaign colluded with Moscow and that Trump subsequently tried to obstruct the probe.

Donald Trump can not have obstructed justice because he is America's top law enforcement officer, his lawyers have argued according to leaked 20-page memo.

In the January 29 letter, Sekulow and Dowd - who has since resigned from Trump's legal team - attack the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice over their "corruption" and suggest the president would not agree to testify unless the special counsel's team can "demonstrate with specificity why it is likely that the subpoenaed materials [here, his testimony] contain important evidence and why this evidence, or equivalent evidence, is not practically available from another source".

The attorneys reminded Mueller that the White House could have claimed "executive privilege" over the documents, but that "the president's desire for transparency exceeded the policy purposes for the privilege under the circumstances".

Trump, who was spending a rainy Washington weekend at Camp David, also unleashed a new attack on the Justice Department, which he has repeatedly painted as corrupt and biased against him.

The arguments parallel those that the president's attorneys have pressed publicly for months, even as quiet negotiations over whether Trump might agree to sit voluntarily for an interview have continued.

He said the investigation was "so bad for our country" and asked: "Is the Special Counsel/Justice Department leaking my lawyers letters to the Fake News Media?"

"I mean, we're leaning toward not", Mr Giuliani told ABC.

President Donald Trump says he didn't fire FBI Director James Comey over the Russian Federation investigation, despite previously citing that as the reason. He can similarly terminate an FBI investigation given the constitutional powers he enjoys, the president's lawyers say.

The argument, however, is not necessarily that the appointment of any special counsel would be unconstitutional, but rather that this one is, because of the broad investigative powers given to Mueller.

Trump's lawyers also argued that the president could not have obstructed justice by firing Comey several months later.

Speaking to reporters last week, the president's newly appointed lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, railed against the inquiry, and pushed Mueller to make his findings public.

The department explained Thursday of the $10 million amount, roughly $5.4 million was spent by other law enforcement personnel who do not report to Mueller and "would have incurred for the investigations irrespective of the existence of the [special counsel]". In their letter, Trump's lawyers contested that account, but also argued that the president could not have been attempting to interfere in an investigation he was not aware was underway. Sekulow and Dowd said that if the comments as attributed were accurate, it "does not establish that the termination was because of the Russian Federation investigation", and that "any president would not want someone he considered a "nut job" running the FBI".

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