Former US Attorney Barbara McQuade briefed MSNBC viewers on the legal strategy at play in reports that President Donald Trump’s legal defense team is considering offering special counsel Bob Mueller an interview with the president.
The Politico report was written by Darren Samuelsohn, who joined McQuade as a guest of anchor Alex Witt.
Witt asked McQuade, a former US Attorney who was ousted by President Trump, “were you to be representing the president, would you advise that he do that interview?”
“Strategically, sometimes you would like your client to be interviewed quickly, to get the matter behind them or to deny Robert Mueller and his team the benefit of educating themselves based on other interviews with other witnesses and the review other documents,” McQuade explained. “However, with this client — President Trump — if I were his lawyer, I would not be advising him to go in and conduct this interview, just because he has proven himself so unreliable in telling the truth.”
“This is not a media interview, this is not a rally where you can engage in puffery. Here, facts matter and you can be charged with a crime for making a false statement,” the long-time prosecutor reminded.
“Puffery, if you will, or inaccuracies along the lines of what we’ve all come to expect from this president, could that constitute perjury?” Witt inquired.
“In this context, it would have to be a material false statement and that means just an important false statement. So if you exaggerate in some unimportant detail, that’s not enough to constitute a crime,” McQuade noted. “But changing a story, we’ve seen evolving stories, for example, regarding the statement [on] the meeting with the Russians in June of 2016. Once you commit to a story, we can’t see shifting versions of that story down the road. So for material facts, it is a crime to lie.”
“Is it a foregone conclusion that Mueller will wanting to interview the president at some point?” Witt asked later in the segment.
“I think it’s likely … I think it will likely come at the very end of his investigation. You want to have the benefit of all of the information of all of the documents and other witnesses so that you can have your one shot at this interview,” McQuade explained. “That’s why I think it’s likely to come at the ending.”
During nearly two decades as a US Attorney and assistant US Attorney in the Eastern District of Michigan, McQuade successfully convicted the so-called Christmas Day “shoe bomber” and also convicted former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick on public corruption charges.
Watch professor at the University of Michigan School of Law Barbara McQuade explain the legal dynamics surrounding whether Donald Trump will be interviewed by Bob Mueller: