Trump legal team sends counteroffer to Mueller

Rudy Giuliani said that President Donald Trump's legal team has responded to the special counsel, the latest effort in ongoing negotiations over a possible interview. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reports.

Posted: Aug 9, 2018 11:52 AM
Updated: Aug 9, 2018 12:03 PM

President Donald Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that he wants negotiations over a presidential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller to be completed by Sept. 1. But the presidential attorney is also making the case that Republicans could benefit from dragging the process into the November midterm elections.

"When I first got involved, I would have told you not testifying would be the right legal strategy but then hurt politically," Giuliani told CNN in a phone interview Wednesday. "Now I'm thinking the continuance of the investigation would actually help because people are getting tired of it, and (the President) needs something to energize his voters because the Democrats look like they're energized. Nothing would energize (Republicans) more than, 'Let's save the President.' "

RELATED: Trump's legal team responds to Mueller regarding interview

Giuliani's comments came as the Trump legal team sent its latest rebuttal to the special counsel's office, once again laying out concerns with the scope of Mueller's request to interview the President in a letter that appears to do little to bridge the gap with Mueller's team.

Republican operatives increasingly view the special counsel's investigation as a base-rallying tool for the midterms -- an outlook reflected in Giuliani's musings about interview negotiations bleeding into the fall campaign.

But his comments are also a reminder of how little the President's legal team knows about how Mueller intends to proceed.

Mueller wants to question Trump about his campaign's interactions with Russia during the campaign and allegations of obstruction of justice leveled against the President, sources familiar with the matter say. The Trump team has been steadfast in arguing the latter topic should be out of bounds because it pertains to privileged matters during his time as President.

The reality -- which Giuliani readily conceded -- is that Mueller is in control of the timing here, not them.

"Mueller will do whatever he wants to do. He has a game plan. He knows it. We just don't know it," Giuliani said.

Trump's team braces for a long battle

Trump's legal team has argued for months that Mueller has all the information he needs to conclude the investigation by relying on the documents provided by the White House, contemporaneous notes and interviews with people inside and outside the White House. They believe that unless Mueller can establish some compelling reason for Trump to testify at all, there is at least some hope that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein would decline to approve a subpoena of the President.

In the meantime, all Trump's team can do is continue negotiations, as it did Wednesday with yet another counteroffer to Mueller intended to once again narrow the scope of the questions he would ask the President in any interview, according to sources familiar with the matter.

"Millions of pages of documents along with testimony from dozens of witnesses have been provided. We're re-stating what we have been saying for months: it is time for the Office of Special Counsel to conclude its inquiry without further delay," Giuliani said of the letter in a statement on Wednesday.

A source familiar with the discussions also reiterated that the Trump team is still "not inclined to do an oral interview." Despite this, the President remains willing to talk to the special counsel, his lawyers say.

The source declined to delve into the details of the letter but said the legal team expressed its "concerns" about Mueller's parameters for an interview.

As they await a response from Mueller, Trump's legal team appears prepared for a prolonged battle even as Giuliani publicly declares it could all wrap up in early September.

A source familiar with the legal discussions noted that negotiations over prosecutors' questioning of a President have historically been a lengthy process, pointing to independent counsel Ken Starr's efforts to get an interview with President Bill Clinton.

The Clinton negotiations lasted six months and involved more than a dozen letters between the two sides. By comparison, negotiations with Mueller's team over an interview restarted in earnest with the most recent iteration of Trump's legal team more than three months ago.

Gaming out how Mueller -- and Trump -- will respond

How long the tug of war over a presidential interview lasts could rest on Mueller and Rosenstein's willingness to subpoena the President if Trump's legal team refuses to budge.

Mueller has never explicitly given the Trump legal team a timeline for reaching that point. While he has floated the possibility of subpoenaing Trump, he has never explicitly threatened to do so, and the Trump team believes he will not pursue that option. Working through the federal appeals courts to reach a final decision on the merits of a presidential subpoena at the Supreme Court could take months.

Again, Trump's lawyers admit, they're just guessing -- rolling the dice that Mueller would rather avoid that legal fight if he can, but no one can say for sure that he won't do it, sources with knowledge of their thinking said.

For now, Mueller appears to be taking his time. When the President's lawyers responded to the special counsel the last time, their response sat unanswered for weeks, sources familiar with the negotiations tell CNN.

When Mueller finally responded, the offer narrowed the number of questions but didn't move forward much on limiting the scope of the questioning, according to sources familiar with the President's attorneys' thinking.

Wednesday's new counteroffer is intended to find more common ground, but it is still unclear -- and some think unlikely -- that they will find agreement on questions pertaining to obstruction of justice that Mueller wants to ask the President.

Trump's lawyers consistently argue that they will not subject the President to what they call a "perjury trap."

"For example, 'What did you say about Flynn?' 'Why did you fire Comey?' They already know our answer," Giuliani said.

There is an additional unpredictable factor here: the President himself. He has publicly said he wants to testify, and those with knowledge of his views insist he still does. How strongly he feels about that is unknown.

"Ultimately, this is the President's decision," Jay Sekulow, one of Trump's attorneys, said on his radio show Wednesday alongside Giuliani. "But we're hopeful that he will take the advice of his lawyers as this process continues to mature."

But after all these months, the timing of this -- and whether Mueller would subpoena a sitting President -- remains a guessing game.

Giuliani believes it would be a mistake for Mueller to carry this through Sept. 1 and as the election approaches.

"He will become an election issue, like it did for Comey," Giuliani said. "I don't think he thinks that way, but I think he cares about his reputation."

Minnesota Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 556381

Reported Deaths: 7098
CountyCasesDeaths
Hennepin1158471682
Ramsey47939856
Dakota42586422
Anoka38655415
Washington24993274
Stearns21052219
St. Louis16821298
Scott16013117
Wright14818127
Olmsted1276297
Sherburne1064880
Carver984945
Clay783490
Rice7649101
Blue Earth698640
Kandiyohi628181
Crow Wing618186
Chisago550650
Otter Tail543973
Benton532297
Mower451132
Goodhue444172
Douglas442870
Winona438649
Nobles400648
Morrison396059
McLeod395255
Isanti378259
Itasca373653
Beltrami372957
Polk366067
Steele364014
Becker356048
Lyon348648
Carlton329452
Freeborn328129
Pine312321
Nicollet307542
Brown294739
Mille Lacs282150
Le Sueur270822
Todd268830
Cass250426
Meeker237437
Waseca231421
Martin213429
Wabasha19953
Roseau197818
Renville172543
Hubbard172341
Dodge17193
Redwood166335
Houston162614
Cottonwood157021
Fillmore15179
Pennington151019
Chippewa146537
Wadena144621
Faribault144019
Sibley136410
Kanabec131721
Aitkin128736
Watonwan12569
Rock123019
Jackson117410
Yellow Medicine110819
Pipestone109926
Pope10306
Murray10269
Swift100018
Marshall85617
Stevens82210
Lake78419
Clearwater77814
Koochiching77313
Wilkin77012
Lac qui Parle73622
Big Stone5644
Lincoln5592
Grant5498
Norman5229
Mahnomen5088
Unassigned50378
Kittson46822
Red Lake3877
Traverse3605
Lake of the Woods3073
Cook1460

Iowa Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 358085

Reported Deaths: 5821
CountyCasesDeaths
Polk56023604
Linn20310330
Scott19111234
Black Hawk15560306
Woodbury14906221
Johnson1405881
Dubuque13162202
Dallas1090196
Pottawattamie10763162
Story1031547
Warren555686
Clinton537790
Cerro Gordo522986
Webster508391
Sioux506673
Marshall477274
Muscatine460796
Des Moines441965
Wapello4254120
Buena Vista421940
Jasper407670
Plymouth397479
Lee368555
Marion354575
Jones293155
Henry286337
Bremer279360
Carroll279351
Crawford261840
Boone258833
Benton250355
Washington249550
Dickinson242343
Mahaska224850
Jackson218242
Kossuth213063
Clay211225
Tama206671
Delaware203039
Winneshiek194433
Page190421
Buchanan188831
Cedar184423
Fayette183041
Wright180435
Hardin179942
Hamilton178149
Harrison176473
Clayton167155
Butler162534
Mills158720
Cherokee157138
Floyd155442
Lyon154841
Madison154119
Poweshiek152733
Allamakee149151
Iowa145524
Hancock143734
Winnebago136131
Grundy135332
Cass134654
Calhoun133211
Jefferson131035
Emmet128740
Shelby128637
Sac127319
Louisa127249
Appanoose126647
Mitchell125341
Union124132
Chickasaw122615
Humboldt118326
Guthrie117929
Franklin112821
Palo Alto111022
Howard102822
Montgomery100637
Unassigned10050
Clarke98323
Keokuk94730
Monroe94128
Ida89733
Adair84532
Pocahontas83721
Monona81230
Davis79924
Greene76710
Osceola75516
Lucas74923
Worth7098
Taylor65312
Fremont6139
Decatur5899
Van Buren55518
Ringgold53623
Wayne52123
Audubon4939
Adams3284
Rochester/St. Mary'S
Cloudy
33° wxIcon
Hi: 39° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 28°
Mason City
Clear
23° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 13°
Albert Lea
Clear
28° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 28°
Austin
Cloudy
30° wxIcon
Hi: 40° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 30°
Charles City
Partly Cloudy
27° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 27°
Feels Like: 20°
Cooler for the next couple of days
KIMT Radar
KIMT Eye in the sky

Latest Video

Image

Bulls defeat Grizzlies in Fraser Cup Final

Image

Bruins continue fight for playoff bid

Image

Aaron's Evening Forecast (4/19/21)

Image

Sean's Weather 4/19

Image

Mayo Clinic Doctor creates art for patients

Image

Electric car show

Image

Walk a Block

Image

Cleaning up Chester Woods

Image

Little Thistle collecting donations

Image

Rochester United PKG

Community Events