The prospects of President Donald Trump sitting for an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller appeared to dim this week as the President lambasted a set of potential questions that leaked to the media.
“The questions are an intrusion into the President’s Article 2 powers under the Constitution to fire any Executive Branch Employee,” the President tweeted, quoting the lawyer Joe diGenova, whose involvement with Trump’s legal team was announced in March but fell through a week later.
It was a far cry from last June, when Trump was eager to sit before the special counsel to answer his questions.
“100%,” Trump said when asked whether he’d be willing to testify under oath, specifically regarding claims made by fired FBI director James Comey.
In the ensuing months, Trump has largely remained open to an interview, even as he insists the allegations his campaign colluded with Russia are false. In his view, an interview could help speed the investigation to a conclusion.
His lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told The Washington Post on Wednesday that an interview is not off the table. But he said the parameters must be narrowed.
“Some people have talked about a possible 12-hour interview. If it happens, that’s not going to happen, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “It’d be, max, two to three hours around a narrow set of questions.”
Some of his aides, advisers and lawyers at times have disagreed. Mueller, they argued, could be setting a trap for perjury. Subjecting the President to an interview had the potential to open him to criminal charges.
For a time, Trump resisted those arguments.
“I’d like to do it as soon as possible,” he told reporters in January, adding any decision would be “subject to my lawyers.”
Even as some of his campaign associates were indicted, Trump remained open to the interview.
“Yes. I would like to,” he said after departing the White House Diplomatic Room in March having delivered a presidential address.
Trump began initial preparations for the interview with his legal team last month, going over the broad topics that might be included. His legal team was in regular negotiations with Mueller’s office over the parameters of an interview.
This week, potential questions that Mueller could pose to Trump appeared in the media. And Trump’s views on the prospective sit-down seemed to change.
“There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap),” he wrote on Wednesday morning, an indication the warnings of a “trap” have gained traction.
Ty Cobb, the one-time White House lawyer working on the Russia investigation who has consistently encouraged a voluntary Mueller interview, insisted to ABC News on Wednesday that a sit-down is “not off the table.”
But moments later, he announced his retirement.