Executive Branch

Trump's lawyers have reportedly advised him to refuse an interview with the special counsel

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Jay Sekulow

Jay Sekulow. Photo by Mark Taylor, Wikimedia Commons.

Lawyers for President Donald Trump have reportedly advised him to refuse an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, setting up the possibility of a court battle to compel his testimony.

The lawyers fear that an interview could be grounds for perjury charges, the New York Times reports in a story based on four anonymous sources.

Trump could run into trouble in an interview because of his “penchant for bravado” and his “history of making false statements and contradicting himself,” the Times says.

Trump has previously said he is looking forward to testifying in the special counsel probe, though an interview would be “subject to my lawyers, and all of that.”

Lawyers advising against an interview are John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, sources tell the Times. Dowd is a former lawyer for Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld who retired from the firm, while Sekulow is chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice. Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, also has said Trump should not agree to an interview.

Lawyer Ty Cobb, on the other hand, argues that Trump should cooperate with Mueller. Cobb left his law firm Hogan Lovells to oversee the White House response to the Mueller probe.

The lawyers who oppose an interview argue that Trump can’t be questioned about acts that were legal, including his alleged conversation with James Comey in which he asked if the FBI director could let go of the investigation of former national security adviser Michael Flynn. Trump is the chief law enforcement officer under the Constitution’s Article II, which gives him constitutional power to fire Comey, Dowd has previously argued.

Lawyers for Trump also believe Mueller has no standing to question Trump about some matters, such as whether he was involved in drafting a misleading statement to the press about Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting with a Russian lawyer. Lying to the news media is not a crime, and there are no grounds for investigating the incident, Trump’s advisers have said.

The special counsel’s power is defined by Justice Department memos, and he has less power than the special counsel investigating President Bill Clinton, who was appointed under a now-expired statute, Politico explains in a story that considers whether Mueller could indict Trump.

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