Trump's Legal Team Claims He Wants to Testify - But His Raging Tweets Say Otherwise

On Thursday morning, the New York Times reported that Donald Trump still wanted to talk to special counsel Robert Mueller—but just what shape any meeting might take remains at the center of very unfriendly negotiations. On Wednesday, Attorney Rudy Giuliani revealed that Donald Trump’s legal team had received a reply to their latest offer to Special Counsel Robert Mueller concerning the conditions for any questioning of Trump. The counteroffer from Mueller came on Tuesday evening—just before Donald Trump exploded into a Twitter fit that ran all the way to noon and included multiple attacks on Mueller as well as Attorney General Jefferson Sessions. Just from the Trump’s actions following the reply, it was easy enough to see that Mueller had not said “It’s all good, we don’t need to chat.”

As the Washington Post and others have since reported, the nature of Mueller’s reply seems rather Trump-friendly on the surface. The special counsel apparently agreed to limit the number of questions, and to drop several areas of inquiry. What topics Mueller has agreed to let pass isn’t yet clear, but there’s a good chance that just one topic forms the focus of Trump’s anger. The Times article also indicates that Mueller has agreed to take some answers in writing, which would allow Trump’s legal team to … smooth out Trump’s response. But with Trump’s legal team wanting to refuse put any follow-ups to those written responses, it’s not clear this is actually a settled point.

In their last offer to Mueller, Trump’s team stated that Trump would not answer any questions about things that had happened after the election. That included his firing of either Michael Flynn or James Comey, and it covered all his private conversations, including those where Trump asked Comey to go easy on Flynn and insisted on personal loyalty. It would be an arrangement designed to shield Trump from providing any evidence of obstruction, and also wipe out several areas of potential perjury when Trump inevitably lied about his conversation with Comey, Flynn, and others.

And from the response of both Trump and his attorneys it’s also an arrangement that Mueller did not accept. It’s been clear for months that obstruction was a big part of the ongoing investigation. While Trump supporters may wave an abbreviated portion of the Constitution and claim that Trump’s Article Two powers give him the authority to fire anyone without stating a cause, it’s almost certain that authority does not include firing someone in the midst of investigating an impeachable offense. It certainly doesn’t include generating a cover story for the firing that presents the public with a false narrative. And it absolutely does not include writing cover stories for a meeting between his campaign staff and Russian operatives.

There may be yes-yes on the lips of Trump’s legal team as they continue to claim that Trump wants to talk to Robert Mueller, but that’s not reflected in the harsh attacks that filled Trump’s Twitter account on Wednesday. Trump not only proclaimed that Mueller was doing “dirty work” and was “a disgrace,” he also went after the prosecution of Paul Manafort in the middle of a trial.

Manafort did serve Reagan and Dole. But in addition to Republican leaders, he served a long series of dictators and would-be dictators around the world. And he served Trump. 

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