Barely a day after President Trump outraged his political opponents by calling out Special Counsel Robert Mueller by name in a series of angry tweets, the Washington Post is reporting that the president's legal team has provided written descriptions of certain key moments to the Mueller probe as they push to limit the scope of a presidential interview, should they agree to one.
According to the report, Trump has reportedly told aides that he's "champing at the bit" to sit for an interview. But his lawyers, who are carefully negotiating terms, have sought to restrain the president, worried he might inadvertently perjure himself or - worse - accidentally walk into a perjury trap.
Given the time-sensitive nature of the investigation (Trump and his allies would like it to end as swiftly as possible) Trump on Monday added storied Washington lawyer Joseph diGenova, the husband of former Reagan Justice Department official and former Senate Intelligence Committee chief counsel Victoria Toensing, to his legal team.
While neither the special counsel nor the White House would comment on the report, lead attorney John Dowd said last week that the back-and-forth with Mueller had been "helpful."
John Dowd, an attorney for the president, declined to comment on any records provided to the special counsel.
“We have very constructive, productive communications with the special counsel and his colleagues,” he said in an interview Friday.
“We’re blessed to have them,” Dowd said of the conversations with Mueller’s team. “I think it’s helpful to them and of course I think it’s very helpful to us.”
Written materials turned over include summaries of internal memos and correspondence between the president and senior officials. Lawyers with the special counsel's office have said their questions fall into two separate categories:
The written materials provided to Mueller’s office include summaries of internal White House memos and contemporaneous correspondence about events Mueller is investigating, including the ousters of national security adviser Michael Flynn and FBI Director James B. Comey. The documents describe the White House players involved and the president’s actions.
Special counsel investigators have told Trump’s lawyers that their main questions about the president fall into two simple categories, the two people said: “What did he do?” and “What was he thinking when he did it?”
Trump’s lawyers expect Mueller’s team to ask whether Trump knew about Flynn’s communications with Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak during the presidential transition, for example, and what instructions, if any, the president gave Flynn about the contact, according to two advisers.
Trump said in February that he fired Flynn because he had misled Vice President Pence about his contact with Kislyak. He said he fired Comey because he had mishandled an investigation of Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
The records do not include Trump’s personal version of events but provide a narrative of the White House view, the people said. Trump’s lawyers hope the evidence eliminates the need to ask the president about some episodes.
In recent weeks, there have been conflicting reports about the Mueller probe, with some suggesting that it could wind down over the coming weeks and months, while others hinted at a longer time frame.
However, these reports have largely omitted one crucial detail: The timeline of the probe largely depends on Trump.