It’s not optional

Meanwhile, Jennifer Rubin reiterates that Trump does not get to just say no. It’s not something he can choose to do or not.

As Right Turn has discussed from time to time, the story line that President Trump has the option whether to sit down with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III is simply wrong. Mueller has the option to ask the grand jury to issue a subpoena to compel Trump’s testimony under oath and without his lawyer present. (Witnesses can go outside to consult with a lawyer, but witnesses ordinarily do not get to bring their attorney into the grand jury room.) Perhaps now Trump, his lawyers and the TV talking heads will approach Trump’s testimony more realistically: It isn’t up to him to decide to cooperate — unless he wants to take the unprecedented step of thwarting an investigation into his own wrongdoing by invoking the Fifth Amendment.

If he did that his presidency would be over, according to people who know things.

Yesterday’s late in the day boom has the details on why it’s not up to him:

In a tense meeting in early March with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, President Trump’s lawyers insisted he had no obligation to talk with federal investigators probing Russia’s interference in the 2016 presidential campaign.

But Mueller responded that he had another option if Trump declined: He could issue a subpoena for the president to appear before a grand jury, according to four people familiar with the encounter.

Ah but the lawyers had a retort.

Mueller’s warning — the first time he is known to have mentioned a possible subpoena to Trump’s legal team — spurred a sharp retort from John Dowd, then the president’s lead lawyer.

“This isn’t some game,” Dowd said, according to two people with knowledge of his comments. “You are screwing with the work of the president of the United States.”

The work of watching Fox News and tweeting insults and holding rallies. Important stuff.

After that Trump’s lawyers fought amongst themselves and Dowd resigned.

Now Trump’s newly reconfigured legal team is pondering how to address the special counsel’s queries, all while assessing the potential evidence of obstruction that Mueller might present and contending with a client who has grown increasingly opposed to sitting down with the special counsel. Without a resolution on the interview, the standoff could turn into a historic confrontation before the Supreme Court over a presidential subpoena.

One thing I haven’t seen discussed yet is how well Trump can stand up to the interview given how long and arduous it will be.

Paul Rosenzweig, who worked as a senior counsel on independent counsel Kenneth W. Starr’s investigation during the Clinton administration, predicted that the president would face a long interview if the special counsel hewed to the list Sekulow compiled.

“This isn’t a list of 49 questions. It’s 49 topics,” Rosenzweig said. “Each of these topics results in dozens of questions. To be honest, that list is a two-day interview. You don’t get through it in an hour or two.”

That would be hard work no matter what, and it will be all the harder for Trump because he’ll be struggling to answer in ways that won’t get him impeached and imprisoned, and for a guy with his limited abilities…dayum.

For his part, Trump fumed when he saw the breadth of the questions that emerged out of the talks with Mueller’s team, according to two White House officials.

The president and several advisers now plan to point to the list as evidence that Mueller has strayed beyond his mandate and is overreaching, they said.

Whose fault is it that the questions cover so much territory? It’s not Mueller’s fault, it’s Trump’s, for being such a crook in such various ways. Crooks don’t get to say “this is too much!!!” when they did all the crooked things.

(Morally speaking they don’t. For all I know maybe legally speaking they do.)

Trump advisers are particularly frustrated by the Mueller team’s focus on whether Trump was obstructing justice by trying to push last summer for Sessions to resign. If the attorney general had stepped down, Trump could have chosen a replacement who was not recused from running the Russia investigation.

Dowd has repeatedly argued that the president has ultimate authority under the Constitution to fire or demote any of his appointees and that his firing decisions cannot be used as evidence of obstruction.

Lawyers who don’t work for Trump have repeatedly responded that firing decisions that obstruct justice can indeed be used as evidence of obstruction.

Alan Dershowitz, a well-known lawyer and Trump advocate, said Tuesday that it would be dangerous and unwise for the president to agree to an interview.

“The strategy is to throw him softballs so that he will go on and on with his answers,” he said. “Instead of sharp questions designed to elicit yes or no, they make him feel very comfortable and let him ramble.”

Isn’t that interesting? Dershowitz obviously realizes how stupid Trump is – only a damn fool would “feel very comfortable” and ramble away to a special counsel – yet he still advocates for him. Why? Why advocate for a criminal idiot? What’s not to dislike?

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