President Donald Trump’s lawyers have aimed to hit the brakes on a potential sit-down with Robert Mueller, but Trump remains eager to speak with the special counsel, according to his allies.
One person familiar with Trump’s thinking said – in addition to believing he is entirely innocent – part of what’s fueling the President’s willingness to participate is his belief that he has experience with lawsuits and testifying under oath from his time in the real estate business.
“He thinks he can work this,” this person said. “He doesn’t realize how high the stakes are.”
Once you’re there, there’s no turning back, this person said. “You can’t get up and walk away. It’s not that easy.”
“He’s basically saying that I’m wide open as a book. I’ve done absolutely nothing wrong and I’m willing to say so under oath,” former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci told CNN’s Jake Tapper Tuesday. “So again, I still think that that is on the table.”
While the President’s inclination may be to meet Mueller face to face, he is not ignoring the chorus of people around him – lawyers, friends and lawmakers – urging him to avoid a sit-down with Mueller. CNN first reported last week that the President’s attorneys were arguing against agreeing to a special counsel interview.
But his lawyers may still be up for negotiating.
The special counsel hasn’t formally requested an interview with the President and the President’s lawyers don’t expect one for another couple of weeks, a source briefed on the matter said. The talks so far have been informal. And while the President’s lawyers currently don’t advocate granting a voluntary interview to Mueller’s team, there is still a chance to reach a deal within certain limits, such as written or a narrow scope of questions.
Multiple people close to Trump have cast any Mueller interview as a risky proposition. While Trump is firm in his belief that there was no collusion with Russian officials, some allies fear that Mueller could ferret something out of Trump that could provide fodder for an obstruction of justice investigation.
White House special counsel Ty Cobb recently made the case the President’s lawyers are mindful of the interview being a potential “perjury trap.”
The White House had no comment.
CNN’s Evan Perez contributed to this report.