Special Counsel Robert Mueller wanted to have a sit-down interview with President Donald Trump to ask follow-up questions to his written responses on a series of topics related to the Russia investigation that he completed in November, but the president’s team refused the request in recent weeks, according a new report from CNN.
The Trump team has sought to severely restrict the extent of the questions Trump will answer, declaring any inquiries about the president’s actions in office to be off-limits.
Trump has previously said that he would testify under oath in Mueller’s Russia investigation, but he has since abandoned that pledge. Though the president’s legal team has gone back and forth about whether Trump would speak directly with Mueller, his most prominent lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, recently said that an interview would only happen “over my dead body.”
So what does it mean that Mueller still wants to interview Trump? According to one source cited by CNN, “Mueller is not satisfied.”
Multiple reports suggest that the special counsel’s investigation may be preparing to wrap up soon — though no one knows for sure. It may be that Mueller doesn’t think he can end the probe responsibly without actually interviewing the president in person, to judge his responses and ask for additional details. He may yet still attempt to subpoena the president’s testimony. Legal experts believe he would likely win that fight, but it could drag on and go up to the Supreme Court.
It could also be that Trump’s initial answers to Mueller’s first round of written questions raised more issues that Mueller wants to probe further. Alternatively, Trump’s answers, almost certainly crafted by his own legal team despite his claims to the contrary, could be so evasive that they provide little help to Mueller in his probe.