New report reveals the behind-the-scenes battle between Trump's team and Mueller over a possible interview on the Russia investigation

Alex Wong/Getty ImagesRobert Mueller.
  • A new report from the Associated Press details the back-and-forth between President Donald Trump’s lawyers and the special counsel Robert Mueller over the terms of a potential interview with Trump. Their compromise? Written answers to questions, which were delivered on Tuesday.
  • Logistics for an interview at Camp David on January 27 this year were being worked out before the plan was scrapped after lawyers learned about the scope of Mueller’s questions.
  • Trump’s lawyers and the special counsel’s office agreed on the president answering written questions only about the 2016 campaign – not obstruction of justice.
  • With the addition of Rudy Giuliani to the team in April, the Trump team’s tactics included dragging out the interview and attacking Mueller.

A new report from the Associated Press details the back-and-forth between President Donald Trump’s lawyers and the special counsel Robert Mueller’s office on whether Trump would sit down with Mueller for an interview under oath.

The matter has been a point of controversy ever since Mueller was appointed as the special counsel in May 2017, shortly after Trump fired FBI director James Comey who had been overseeing the investigation of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 US presidential election.

The Mueller-led Russia probe has landed several indictments of Trump associates in the last 18 months. It has also prompted frequent speculation about Trump’s possible legal exposure stemming from actions he took during the 2016 campaign and after he took office.

One of the biggest questions has centered on that Trump-Mueller interview, on which the president has expressed conflicting assertions – often changing his tune about whether or not he would attend.

Additionally, the road to get there was long, the Associated Press explained in a detailed report published Wednesday. It included tense negotiations, Trump’s initial desire to answer questions, the prospect of a subpoena, and a host of tactics put forth by Trump’s lawyers.

Those strategies included saying that all of the documents Trump’s lawyers provided to Mueller’s office were enough to make a formal sit-down with Trump unnecessary. The lawyers have also argued that questioning Trump about his time in the White House would infringe on “his executive powers.”

Attorneys for the president also engaged in a one-sided public war against Mueller. That was another tactic the Associated Press said was meant to drag out the Trump-Mueller meeting negotiations for as long as possible, while also attacking Mueller, an exercise that was led by Rudy Giuliani, who joined Trump’s team in April.

According to the AP, an interview was scheduled for January 27, 2018. Chief of staff John Kelly got as far as working on logistics to get Trump to Camp David before the plan was scrapped by Trump’s lawyers, after they learned the scope of Mueller’s questions.

On Tuesday, the newswire service reported that written answers to Mueller’s questions about the 2016 campaign – not potential obstruction of justice – were submitted to the special counsel’s office. This compromise was reached in September “when Mueller’s team said it would accept written answers on Russian election interference and collusion,” the AP reports.

It’s unclear if Mueller will submit more questions to be answered. The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for clarification from INSIDER on Wednesday night.

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