Mueller hardens stance on Trump interview
in Russia probe, Giuliani says
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[September 07, 2018]
By Karen Freifeld
(Reuters) - Special Counsel Robert Mueller
wants President Donald Trump to commit to a follow-up interview to
written answers to questions in his probe of any coordination between
Trump campaign members and Russia in the 2016 U.S. election, Rudy
Giuliani, who is representing the president, said on Thursday.
Giuliani, who said talks between the two sides were continuing, saw
Mueller's stance as a hardening in the position prosecutors are taking
after offering to allow Trump to answer questions in writing.
"I thought we were close to having an agreement until they came back
with, 'You have to agree now that you'll allow a follow-up,' and I donít
see how we can do it," Giuliani told Reuters.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment.
Lawyers for Trump have been negotiating over a potential interview with
Mueller's team since last year in the U.S. investigation of Russian
meddling in the presidential election, which Moscow denies. Trump has
denied any campaign collusion, calling the Mueller probe a "witch hunt."
In a letter to Trump's lawyers last week, Mueller expressed a
willingness to accept written responses on questions about collusion,
but did not rule out a possible interview as a follow-up, a person
familiar with the matter told Reuters on Tuesday.
After receiving the written responses, Mueller's investigators would
decide on a next step, which could include an interview with Trump, the
But Giuliani said on Thursday that Mueller's team had stiffened its
position in the latest talks.
"They want a commitment" to a follow-up interview, Giuliani said. "We've
said no, and let's see how they deal with it."
Giuliani has described a possible interview with Mueller as a potential
"perjury trap," an opportunity to catch Trump making a false statement
under oath, and legal experts have also suggested that Trump could open
himself up to trouble.
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Robert Mueller testifies before the House Judiciary Committee
hearing on Federal Bureau of Investigation oversight on Capitol Hill
in Washington, DC, U.S., June 13, 2013. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas/File
Mueller is also investigating whether Trump may have tried to
obstruct the Russia investigation after winning office, but Giuliani
said on Thursday that no questions on the obstruction issue would be
part of the first round of questions.
If negotiations break down with Mueller, a subpoena could be issued
for Trump to testify before a grand jury, which Giuliani has said
they would fight all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. intelligence agencies concluded that Russia interfered in the
campaign, seeking to tilt it in Trump's favor against Democratic
candidate Hillary Clinton by hacking Democratic computer networks
and spreading disinformation on social media.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Tim Ahmann)
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