President Trump in a series of Wednesday morning tweets, lashed out against the Mueller probe and the Department of Justice - threatening to "use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved."
A Rigged System - They don’t want to turn over Documents to Congress. What are they afraid of? Why so much redacting? Why such unequal “justice?” At some point I will have no choice but to use the powers granted to the Presidency and get involved!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2018
The complaints follow the leak of approximately four-dozen questions the Special Counsel would like to ask the President, ranging from what Trump knew about alleged Russian efforts to interfere with the 2016 US election, to whether he tried to obstruct justice when he fired former FBI Director James Comey.
Trump and his legal team are engaged in ongoing negotiations with special counsel Robert Mueller's team over whether the president will agree to be interviewed as part of the Russia (and now Stormy Daniels) investigation. Mueller warned Trump's lawyers in a March meeting that he could issue a subpoena for the President to testify before a grand jury, according to four people familiar with the situation.
Trump had said previously that he would be willing to have a face-to-face meeting with Mueller or his team, but more recently he has wavered on the prospect. Some of Trump’s advisers have counseled that he could risk being accused of perjury if he submits to open-ended questioning from Mueller and provides meandering answers. -Washington Post
Last year Trump said he would be "100%" willing to testify undre oath, while telling ABC News's Jonathan Karl in January "I would love to do that...I'd like to do it as soon as possible," adding “You know I think things are still in a lane, working toward a resolution of the interview issue.”
In an earlier Thursday tweet, Trump quoted former US Attorney Joe diGenova, who recently appeared on SiriusXM's The Michael Smerconish Program where he described Mueller's probe as “an outrageous, sophomoric, juvenile intrusion into the president’s unfettered power to fire anyone in the executive branch.”
"The questions are an intrusion into the President's Article 2 powers under the Constitution to fire any Executive Branch Employee," tweeted Trump, citing deGenova.
“The questions are an intrusion into the President’s Article 2 powers under the Constitution to fire any Executive Branch Employee...what the President was thinking is an outrageous.....as to the President’s unfettered power to fire anyone...” Joe Digenova, former US Attorney— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2018
diGenova and his wife, Victoria Toensing, were tapped last month to represent Trump in the Mueller probe, only to have to withdraw over conflicts. Appearing on Fox News Wednesday, Toensing suggested that Trump might be accused of perjury if something he says conflicts with claims by James Comey.
Toensing, who was recruited for Trump’s legal team but did not join because of client conflicts, recalled the case of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, the former chief of staff to Vice President Richard B. Cheney.
Libby, whom Toensing represented, was convicted of obstruction of justice and other charges in 2007 stemming from an investigation of a leak of a CIA officer’s identity. But Libby was never charged with leaking the officer’s identity. -WaPo
Setup & Trap
Earlier in the day, Trump lashed out over the investigation - tweeting "There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap)." He then pointed to the progress made over North Korea, the trade deficit with China and negotiations on NAFTA.
There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap). What there is is Negotiations going on with North Korea over Nuclear War, Negotiations going on with China over Trade Deficits, Negotiations on NAFTA, and much more. Witch Hunt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 2, 2018
On Tuesday, Trump tweeted "It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!" - suggesting that he
It would seem very hard to obstruct justice for a crime that never happened! Witch Hunt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 1, 2018
Schumer Flips Out
In response to Trump's threat to flex his Presidential powers, Rep. Chuck "six ways from Sunday" Schumer (D-NY) cautioned not to "go down this road," tweeting that "the powers of the Presidency do not give you the right to interfere with or shut down the Russia investigation," adding "Firing the Deputy AG or Director Mueller would create a constitutional crisis."
Mr. President, the powers of the Presidency do not give you the right to interfere with or shut down the Russia investigation. Firing the Deputy AG or Director Mueller would create a constitutional crisis. Do not go down this road. https://t.co/rqhxKFYYQC— Chuck Schumer (@SenSchumer) May 2, 2018
Schumer warned of "severe consequences" in March if Trump moves to shut down the Mueller probe.
Interview Still Possible
In an exclusive interview with ABC's Powerhouse Politics, White House lawyer Ty Cobb - who we subsequently learned is retiring, set to be replaced with Bill Clinton's impeachment lawyer Emmet Flood, said that a presidential interview with Mueller's team has not been ruled out.
"It's certainly not off the table and people are working hard to make decisions and work towards an interview," said Cobb, adding "And assuming that can be concluded favorably, there'll be an interview."
“Assuming it can't be… assuming an agreement can't be reached, you know then it'll go a different route."
Cobb, as it turns out, is being replaced by Emmet T. Flood - a veteran Washington lawyer who represented Bill Clinton during his impeachment.
In a phone interview, Mr. Cobb said he informed the president weeks ago that he wanted to retire. He said he planned to stay at the White House, likely through the end of the month, to help Mr. Flood transition into the new job. -NYT
"It has been an honor to serve the country in this capacity at the White House,” he said. “I wish everybody well moving forward.”