WASHINGTON – U.S. President Donald Trump’s legal team has prepared written responses to several dozen questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller but say they won’t submit them until after next week’s elections and only if they reach a broader agreement with Mueller on terms for the questioning.
Rudy Giuliani, Trump’s personal attorney, said in an interview Monday that the answers relate only to whether Trump colluded with Russia during his presidential campaign. He said the legal team is still unwilling to answer any questions concerning obstruction of justice by the president.
Giuliani also said that a face-to-face interview with Mueller is “off the table” for now but isn’t being ruled out completely.
In an interview with Fox News Monday, Trump suggested he would provide some answers to Mueller but didn’t address whether he would agree to an interview.
“But we will probably do something,” the president said, “where we respond to some questions.”
Trump and the usually voluble Giuliani have said little about the probe in recent weeks. The special counsel, who hasn’t made any public comment since he was appointed in May 2017, also has refrained from public actions that could be viewed as swaying votes before the Nov. 6 midterm elections.
Giuliani said Mueller still could pose additional questions, and he called the ones received so far “a good sample.” He said he expects the issue to be resolved by the end of November. Once the election is past, Trump’s lawyers are bracing for a flurry of activity from Mueller.
“We have an informal agreement that while negotiating the final details of a Q&A that we wouldn’t comment much, we have been sort of quiet,” Giuliani said. “But I expect a day after the election we will be in serious discussions with them again, and I have a feeling they want to get it wrapped up one way or another.”
Trump’s legal team has been negotiating with Mueller for almost a year over terms for an interview. Trump’s lawyers have said they won’t respond to questions about the president’s firing of former FBI Director James Comey or his comments to Comey about his investigation into former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn. They say they are afraid that investigators won’t believe Trump’s responses and will accuse him of lying to investigators in what Giuliani has called a “perjury trap.”
Mueller is expected to issue findings on core aspects of his Russia probe soon after the November midterm elections as he faces intensifying pressure to produce more indictments or shut down his investigation, according to two U.S. officials.
Specifically, Mueller is close to rendering judgment on two of the most explosive aspects of his inquiry: whether there were clear incidents of collusion between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, and whether the president took any actions that constitute obstruction of justice, according to one of the officials, who asked not to be identified speaking about the investigation. Those findings may not be made public, though.