Trump to Mueller: Take Your Obstruction Questions and Shove Them
In an interview with the Associated Press, Rudy Giuliani said that while President Trump has agreed to respond to some of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s questions (and Mueller has, in turn, agreed to accept some answers in writing), there was one subject that would remain off-limits: The question of whether or not Trump obstructed the Russia probe. Giuliani said the president would not respond to questions about obstruction of justice, which is seen as Mueller’s strongest – and perhaps only – case against Trump now that “collusion” is pretty much off the table.
Giuliani said that any questions related to obstruction of justice were a “no-go.”
It seems to us that this is the right move for the president, who really doesn’t need to explain to these witch hunters what steps he took to limit the investigation. At the end of the day, the Justice Department is under his command and he can direct prosecutors as he sees fit. He had every right (and reason) to send James Comey home last year, and, as far as we can tell, anything else that Mueller might choose to bring against him would be squarely within the “state of mind” arena. That’s shaky grounds for an investigation, especially when the subject of the original investigation – the one Trump supposedly obstructed – is a false premise.
But it’s long been thought that this is the direction Mueller would take his inquiry, seeing as how no one can come up with any evidence that Trump or his campaign team is guilty of conspiring with Moscow. It’s a common and effective tactic for FBI investigators to charge a subject with lying to them or obstructing the case, especially when they can’t prove the original charges. But what’s fine and dandy when it comes to mobsters, tax cheats, and Martha Stewart becomes a little different when you’re talking about the President of the United States. We don’t need our president bogged down in defending himself against trumped-up, phony charges; we need him focused on the job of being president.
House Intelligence Democrat Adam Schiff said that it was time for Mueller to bring out the big guns. “Trump’s legal team never had any intention of allowing him to be interviewed, knowing he is incapable of telling the truth,” he tweeted. “It’s past time to subpoena the President. No one is above the law.”
If Mueller does try such a gambit, the president will no doubt attempt to fight it, and it’s not clear that Mueller would have the law on his side. Certainly, there is longstanding disagreement over whether a sitting president can be forced to testify, and it wouldn’t surprise us to see the question land before the Supreme Court.
Generally speaking, we can imagine scenarios where it would be appropriate to subpoena a sitting president, but the burden of proof should be pretty damn high. So if Mueller wants to do this, he needs to finally be up front about what he “has” on Trump. And that’s why we’re pretty sure this isn’t going anywhere; he’s got nothing, which is exactly why he’s desperate to chase the president down the obstruction rabbit hole. It’s the only chance he has of delivering to the Democrats something more significant than a past-due bill.