WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump’s attorney Rudy Giuliani says the president still wants to testify in the Russia probe, but says he is “pretty comfortable” that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team could not subpoena him in the investigation.
Speaking on “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning, the former mayor of New York said Trump will only sit down with Mueller if “we feel there’s a way to shorten this thing.” He added that Trump remains eager to offer his “side of the case.”
Giuliani has been urging Mueller’s team to wrap up its investigation as the probe hits its one-year anniversary.
Giuliani’s team has been weighing whether to allow Trump to sit for an interview with Mueller. He said the legal team is “pretty comfortable, in the circumstances of this case that they wouldn’t be able to subpoena him personally,” adding that Mueller’s team can require documents and testimony in certain circumstances, but not in his own case.
While the Supreme Court has never definitively ruled on the subject, it appears that a sitting president could be forced to testify. In 1974, justices held unanimously that a president could be compelled to comply with a subpoena for tapes and documents.
If he were subpoenaed and did not want to testify, Trump could always invoke his constitutional right not to testify against himself and decline to answer questions. But that act would pose significant political risk.
Giuliani also repeated that Mueller’s team has indicated it would not attempt to indict Trump, as he told the Associated Press on Friday. Justice Department legal opinions from 1973 and 2000 have suggested that a sitting president is immune from indictment and that criminal charges would undermine the ability of the commander in chief to do the job.
Giuliani told Fox News Channel’s Laura Ingraham on Wednesday that Mueller “has all the facts to make a decision” after 12 months investigating Russian meddling in the election and possible collusion with Trump’s campaign.
“Mueller should now bring this to a close,” said Giuliani,. “It’s been a year. He’s gotten 1.4 million documents, he’s interviewed 28 witnesses. And he has nothing, which is why he wants to bring the president into an interview.”
“It’s about time to say enough. We’ve tortured this president enough,” he added, describing the investigation as being “like a big weight” on the president’s back.
So far, the special counsel’s office has charged 19 people — including four Trump campaign advisers — and three Russian companies. Trump’s former national security adviser, Michael Flynn, and his deputy campaign chairman, Rick Gates, have pleaded guilty and are now co-operating with the probe.
Trump, however, has panned it as a “witch hunt” intended to discredit his presidency and insisted that Russia had nothing to do with his winning 2016 campaign.
Giuliani, who is working for the president pro bono, said Wednesday that the probe “is not good for the American people, and the special counsel’s office doesn’t seem to have that sort of understanding that they’re interfering with things that are much bigger than them.”
He also said all campaigns look for dirt on their opponents, regardless of the source.
“And even if it comes from a Russian, or a German, or an American, it doesn’t matter. And they never used it, is the main thing. They never used it. They rejected it. If there was collusion with the Russians, they would have used it,” he said.
The Associated Press