President Trump is giving special counsel Robert Mueller until September 1st for a sit-down interview under limited conditions, as an interview beyond that window "could interfere with the midterm elections," reports the Wall Street Journal, citing Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani.
Trump's attorneys sent Mueller's team a proposal indicating that the president would be willing to take questions on collusion with Russia in the 2016 elections, but not obstruction of justice alleged to have occurred after he took office - as Giuliani has previously said it could become a perjury trap.
"We certainly won’t do [an interview] after Sept. 1, because we’re not going to be the ones to interfere with the election," Mr. Giuliani told the Journal. "Let him [Mr. Mueller] get all the bad publicity and the attacks for that."
"I think we made the offer we can live with," said Giuliani.
Based on a prior meeting with Mr. Mueller, Mr. Giuliani said he had believed prosecutors wanted to wrap up the inquiry by September. “Now they’re not really rushing us,” he said.
Mr. Mueller has made some moves that suggest the inquiry itself could stretch beyond the midterm elections and certainly past the September timeline Mr. Giuliani laid out. -WSJ
Last week the special counsel subpoenaed Roger Credico, comedian and radio host that former Trump adviser Roger Stone claims was a back channel to Wikileaks. Credico has denied this - instead calling himself a "confirming source" due to his contacts with WikiLeaks attorneys. He is set to testify in front of Mueller's grand jury on September 7.
According to emails the Journal says it reviewed, Stone told Credico in September 2016 to "please ask [WikiLeaks founder Julian] Assange" for information that could hurt Hillary Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee. As we noted on Thursday, if Trump had in fact colluded with Russia, and Russia hacked Clinton's emails, it seems odd that Stone would need to reach out to Credico in a private email to obtain some of them.
Mueller's final report
Giuliani also told the Journal that he'd prefer even a critical final report from Mueller vs. letting it drag on. "I'd take that," said Rudy. "A negative report gets it over with. We can answer it with, I think, a better report from us, and then we get to wait and see what happens in Congress."
And whatever Mueller submits to the DOJ's Rod Rosenstein, Trump's attorneys already have their own report, according to Giuliani.
Regulations governing Mr. Mueller’s office state that at the end of his work, he must provide the attorney general with a confidential report explaining his decisions. Attorney General Jeff Sessions, has recused himself from the investigation, meaning the report would instead go to Rod Rosenstein, the deputy attorney general.
Mr. Trump’s attorneys are preparing their own report, part of which rebuts accusations from James Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation director fired by Mr. Trump in May 2017, according to Mr. Giuliani. -WSJ
Comey, in particular, claimed that Trump asked him not to pursue the FBI investigation into former national security adviser, Michael Flynn - while Trump denies ever speaking with Comey on the subject. The former FBI Director subsequently produced a memorandum he says he made to document the interaction to Trump, which he leaked to the press through his good friend, employee and attorney, Daniel Richman. Richman, a Columbia law professor, worked under Comey at the FBI as a "special government employee" as early as June 30, 2015 - who served "at the pleasure of the Director," according to Fox News.
Richman's allegedly unpaid work included "defending Comey's handling of the Clinton email case, including the controversial decision to reopen the probe shortly before the presidential election."
FBI records show that as a special government employee, Richman would "serve at the pleasure of the Director [Comey]," with an initial term of one year. Richman's stated responsibilities included the use of encryption by terror suspects -- known as "Going Dark." In August 2015, his projects were expanded to include "an examination of the implications of federal investigations being brought to state and local prosecutors."
So - not only did Richman serve as the conduit for Comey's leak three months after he left the FBI, Richman defended Comey to the media while serving at Comey's pleasure as a "special government employee." He was typically identified as a law professor by the media, and sometimes as a policy adviser to Comey, reports Fox.
Richman was sent talking points about the Clinton investigation according to government transcripts, which compared Clinton's use of an unsecured private server to that of retired Gen. David Petraeus, who shared classified information with his mistress and biographer, Paula Broadwell. The talking points also mentioned Sandy Berger, Bill Clinton's former national security adviser who pleaded guilty to the unauthorized removal and retention of classified material from the National Archives.
In other words, if Mueller issues a negative final report on Trump - and maybe regardless, Trump's is going to drag the entire Comey - Richman connection back into the sunlight as part of a counter-report that's sure to be a stunning read.