TrumpWatch, Day 533: Lawyers Put Up New Barriers to Trump Interview with Mueller

Special Counsel Robert Mueller and Donald Trump

Trump team trying to turn public against Russia inquiry before President faces Special Counsel


Developments on Day 533 of the Trump Administration:

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Donald Trump’s lawyers declare new conditions for any interview with Special Counsel Robert Mueller in the Trump-Russia investigation, saying that the chances of Trump being voluntarily questioned are increasingly unlikely.

Rudy Giuliani, the former New York City mayor who is now Trump’s lead attorney, said Mueller must prove he has evidence of Trump’s commmission of a crime before any interview takes place. Giuliani also said the Special Counsel must establish that the testimony is essential to completing the investigation.

Giuliani acknowledged that Mueller is unlikely to agree to the demands.

Trump has declared that he is “100%” ready for an interview, but his lawyers have been divided for months. Since Giuliani joined the legal team in April, he and Trump have put out a tougher line, trying to undermine the investigation through a series of public attacks and dubious claims about a “Witch Hunt”.

Among their concerns is that Democrat victories in November’s Congressional elections, giving the party a majority, will lead to a vote on an impeachment process. Trump was also unsettled by an FBI raid on the office, home, and hotel of his attorney Michael Cohen, who is now reportedly cooperating with Mueller.

Giuliani said in a Friday interview, “If they can come to us and show us the basis and that it’s legitimate and that they have uncovered something, we can go from there and assess their objectivity.”

Repeating the long-held Trump position, Giuliani called on Mueller to wrap up the inquiry soon. He said Trump’s lawyers plan to write their own summary of the case.

The attorneys are also blocking Mueller’s attempt to interview White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, demanding to know the questions and trying to narrow the scope.


North Korea: “Regrettable” Talks With Pompeo

North Korea says talks with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo over Pyongyang’s nuclear program were “regrettable”.

An unnamed North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesman issued the statement on Saturday, hours after Pompeo concluded two days of talks with North Korean officials led by fomer intelligence head Kim Yong Chol. The meeting in Pyongyang was the first since the summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un.

The statement said the US betrayed the spirit of the summit with unilateral demands on “CVID” — North Korea’s complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization. It said the discussions were “very concerning” because they led to a “dangerous phase that might rattle our willingness for denuclearization that had been firm”.

See also US Officials — North Korea Stepping Up Nuclear Program
TrumpWatch, Day 509: After the Summit — Trump Makes 1st Major Concession to North Korea

Pompeo had a far different perspective:

Pompeo was vague about the “progress” on “central issues”. He said a Pentagon team will meet North Korean officials on or about July 12 at the border between North and South Korea to discuss the repatriation of remains from the 1950s Korean War.

The Secretary of State also working-level talks will be held about the destruction of North Korea’s missile engine testing facility.

Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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