President Donald Trump’s television attorney Rudy Giuliani said Thursday that the president would NOT answer questions about obstruction of justice if interviewed by Robert Mueller. Then, in a later interview, he appeared to change his mind.
Giuliani’s initial comments, as well as his subsequent backtracking, were the subject of much discussion as well as a great deal of confusion. Everyone wants to know where the Mueller probe will go next, and if the president will talk to the special counsel under oath, subject to the penalties of perjury if he lies. And of course, one of the main lines of inquiry would be whether or not the president illegally obstructed justice.
First, Giuliani told the Associated Press that with respect to the obstruction questions, “That’s a no-go. That is not going to happen,” and “there will be no questions at all on obstruction.”
Later on Thursday he spoke to NBC News and said that questions about obstruction of justice “are not ruled in or out.”
Could this be just another case of the president’s lawyer trying to muddy the waters? What is he hoping to accomplish by changing his mind on such an important topic?
This would not be the first time where Giuliani has said something provocative and then later, upon further reflection, come back to say something different.
It also may be the case that somebody else spoke to the former New York mayor after his initial comments and told him that what he had said was not entirely correct.
Robert Mueller of course is investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. He wants to know — as do the American people — whether or not people in the Trump campaign conspired with Russia to help Trump win.
In addition, federal prosecutors are investigating the charges of obstruction of justice on the part of the president, since he has done many things to interfere in Mueller’s investigation.
Giuliani’s statements Thursday came after many days of discussions about Trump submitting to an interview, either in person or in writing.
“We have said we would agree to written questions on Russia after we review questions but no further commitment on interviews. After we finish this we will assess it with no agreement to any post-presidential questions,” Giuliani told NBC News.
He also added that there’s “no commitment on obstruction which are post-presidential matters” but says the legal team will agree to talk “after the collusion/pre-presidential questions are over.”
Giuliani’s comments show that Trump’s lawyers are trying to protect the president from answering questions about actions he took in office, and want to focus only on actions taken during the campaign and transition time.
It is widely believed that an interview with the president would be the last step in the Mueller probe. Mueller and his team have talked to everyone else, and have cut deals and gotten guilty pleas from some Trump associates and employees.
If Giuliani and Trump tell Bob Mueller that they will not submit to an interview, and if Mueller does not subpoena the president, then the investigation is over. And if it’s over, that means Mueller will be ready for his next moves, whatever they might be. It could be an indictment, or just a final report to Rod Rosenstein at the Justice Department.
It may be that Giuliani and Trump are simply stalling by refusing to definitively answer the interview question. The longer they stall the interview, the longer they delay Trump’s day of reckoning. But they can’t stall it forever, and both of them know the day is coming soon when Donald Trump will be called to account for his crimes.
I am a lifelong Democrat with a passion for social justice and progressive issues. I have degrees in writing, economics and law from the University of Iowa.