Lawyers for President Trump have advised him against sitting down for a wide-ranging interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, raising the prospect of a long court battle over whether the president must answer questions under oath, the New York Times reports. His attorneys are concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators. Their stance puts them at odds with Trump, who has said he is eager to speak with Mueller as part of the investigation into possible ties between his associates and Russia’s election interference, and whether he obstructed justice. Trump’s decision about whether to speak to prosecutors will shape one of the most consequential moments of the investigation. Refusing to sit for an interview opens the possibility that Mueller will subpoena the president to testify before a grand jury, setting up a court fight that would drastically escalate the investigation and could be decided by the Supreme Court.
Rejecting an interview with Mueller would prompt accusations that the president is hiding something, and a court fight could prolong the special counsel inquiry, casting a shadow over Republicans as November’s midterm elections approach or beyond into the president’s re-election campaign. John Dowd, a defense lawyer representing Trump, wants to rebuff an interview request, as do deputy Jay Sekulow, and many West Wing advisers. The lawyers and aides believe the special counsel might be unwilling to subpoena the president and set off a showdown that Mueller could lose in court.