The news out of the White House goes like this: Despite all legal urgings to the contrary, President Donald Trump wants to sit down for an interview with special counsel Bob Mueller.
“He thinks he can work this,” one person familiar with Trump’s thinking told CNN’s Sara Murray. “He doesn’t realize how high the stakes are.”
Because, of course he does (and doesn’t).
This is all psychological to Trump. Think about it.
He believes to the bottom of his heart that he is 100% completely innocent of anything having to do with Russia’s interference in the election or any possible collusion with his campaign.
When he calls the whole thing a “witch hunt” and a “hoax,” he means it in relation to himself. “I’m the President and I didn’t do anything wrong” is what Trump is really saying. “People under me? Who knows? But I am innocent and this is all a distraction.”
Now remember that Trump believes himself to be his own best advocate in all things – business, politics and, yes, the law. He has already expressed frustration on multiple occasions about how slow the process is moving.
To his mind then, the best (only?) way to solve the problem of the Mueller investigation is to sit down with Mueller – no matter what the (overly cautious) lawyers say.
Think about it this way. Trump is a big TV watcher. So you know he’s familiar with the 100 iterations of “Law and Order” currently on the air. In how many of those does the totally innocent defendant not take the stand to defend himself? It’s close to 0%.
Not taking the stand – in the dramatic arts – is a sure sign that you are (a) hiding something, (b) guilty or (c) both.
In the real world, of course, lots and lots of people don’t testify – for all sorts of reasons including the possibility they might incriminate themselves or because they may be a less-than-stellar witness and actually hurt their case.
But, Trump is blessed with perfect self-confidence and, therefore, unconcerned about either of those issues. He’s innocent! What does he need to worry about incriminating himself or not helping his cause?
Then there is the mano-a-mano element of a showdown with Mueller that Trump clearly relishes. He has read all of the positive press about Mueller – how he is the smartest, most dedicated, most trusted man in law enforcement. How his integrity is unquestioned. How he could never embark on a partisan witch hunt.
That eats away at Trump. His natural instincts are to take down these idols that people hold. Jeb Bush. Barack Obama. John McCain. In Trump’s mind, he cut all of these people – and lots more – down to size when they came up against him. He almost certainly wants to make Mueller the most recent name on his wall. And he can’t do that if he won’t sit down with Mueller.
Add it all up – and combine it with the fact that Trump almost always gets what he wants – and there’s every reason to believe that he will ignore his lawyers’ advice and push for some short of exchange with Mueller.
Two men enter, one man leaves – and all that.