Special Counsel Robert Mueller officially agreed on Tuesday to a handful of the terms set by President Donald Trump’s legal team regarding a potential presidential interview.
According to The New York Times, Mueller has agreed to accept written answers from Trump on questions regarding whether his presidential campaign colluded with the Russian government during the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller’s team also wrote in a letter to the Trump’s legal team on Friday that the special counsel’s office was aware that the president can exercise executive privilege.
Mueller’s team admitted, in part, that they agree with Trump’s assertion that the U.S. Constitution gives him executive privilege not to speak about anything that may jeopardize the United States national security. As such, the Times reports that Mueller’s team is not going to demand that Trump provide written answers regarding allegations of obstruction of justice.
Here’s what the Times reports:
Mr. Mueller did not say that he was giving up on an interview altogether, including on questions of obstruction of justice. But the tone of the letter and the fact that the special counsel did not ask for written responses on obstruction prompted some Trump allies to conclude that if an interview takes place, its scope will be more limited than Mr. Trump’s legal team initially believed, the people said.
The letter was the latest in lengthy negotiations that the two sides have engaged in about whether Mr. Trump will be formally interviewed in the investigation. “We continue to maintain an ongoing dialogue with the office of the special counsel,” Mr. Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow said, adding that it was the legal team’s policy to not discuss its communications with the special counsel’s office.
Mr. Trump’s lawyers have tried to put off a formal interview, saying repeatedly that to determine whether the Trump campaign conspired with Russia’s election interference and whether Mr. Trump tried to obstruct the inquiry, Mr. Mueller can find the answers in the interviews that his investigators have conducted with witnesses, including senior White House aides and administration officials, and more than 1.4 million documents turned over by the White House.
Last month, Rudy Giuliani, the president’s lead attorney, said he notified Mueller’s office that Trump would not agree to an interview after Sept. 1 because the president did not want to take any actions that “could interfere with the midterm elections.”
On Friday, the day before Giuliani’s deadline, Mueller’s team agreed to two major terms that Giuliani laid out regarding a potential presidential interview.
Giuliani said Trump would provide written answers on alleged collusion, but not take questions or submit any answers on anything regarding obstruction of justice — and Mueller accepted both terms.
Mueller accepting the terms comes after Trump’s legal team has been pushing hard for the special counsel to wrap up the portion of his investigation into the president before November’s midterm elections.
It also comes after Giuliani revealed last month that the president’s legal team is preparing a “counter report” to rebut any allegations that Mueller may include in his final report.
Mueller agreeing to Trump submitting written answers on alleged collusion and not asking the president to provide written responses to claims that he obstructed justice is a major win for Trump.
And it also may signal that Mueller is inching closer toward concluding the portion of his investigation into the president.
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