After the New York Times reported nearly 50 questions special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly plans to ask President Trump, the question becomes, who leaked them? Nathan Rousseau Smith reports.
WASHINGTON — As negotiations over his potential testimony hit a sensitive point, President Trump complained Wednesday that the Russia investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller is interfering with presidential duties.
Trump also questioned Mueller’s right to even question the president about certain personnel decisions, including the decision a year ago to fire then-FBI Director James Comey.
“There was no Collusion (it is a Hoax) and there is no Obstruction of Justice (that is a setup & trap),” Trump tweeted before citing a litany of economic and foreign policy challenges on his plate.
“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!” Trump said.
For a second straight day, Trump protested the Russia investigation amid negotiations by attorneys over whether he will comply with Mueller’s request to provide testimony — talks that are shadowed by the prospect of an unprecedented subpoena of a sitting president.
John Dowd, one of the president’s attorneys, confirmed that Mueller raised the prospect of a grand jury subpoena at a meeting in early March if the president refused to provide testimony.
Dowd and other Trump aides have argued that a prosecutor does not have the legal authority to subpoena a sitting president, and suggested they would challenge such a move in court.
That sets up the prospect of a long legal battle that would run parallel to the sprawling Mueller probe.
Presidential advisers have been divided for months on whether Trump should speak to Mueller and his team. Some say he should not, citing reams of documents the Trump team has provided to the special counsel that answer their questions, or fearing that prosecutors may spring a “perjury trap” on Trump.
In his latest tweet, Trump referred to the obstruction of justice investigation as “a setup & trap.”
Other aides said it is quite possible that Trump and Mueller will agree to some sort of testimony, perhaps written answers to questions posed by the special counsel.
Trump’s renewed complaints about the Mueller investigation come after release of a list of more than four dozen questions the special counsel would like to ask the president.
The questions cover the full range of the probe, from whether Trump knew about Russian efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election to whether he sought to obstruct justice by firing Comey and making other changes in the Justice Department.
A dispute over the scope of Mueller’s questions could set up another potential legal battle.
In another tweet Thursday, Trump cited comments from attorney Joe diGenova that questions about Comey’s firing “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…”
Appearing on SiriusXM’s The Michael Smerconish Program, diGenova described the questions to Trump as “unconstitutional” as well as “outrageous.”
Trump recently sought to hire diGenova, but he pulled out because of potential conflicts of interest. The president, in replacing Dowd, wound up retaining former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani as a private attorney.
In yet another tweet, Trump plugged a new book: “The Russia Hoax – The Illicit Scheme to Clear Hillary Clinton and Frame Donald Trump.”
The president described the entire episode as “a sad chapter for law enforcement,” and “a rigged system!”
While pondering whether to testify, Trump is setting up an unprecedented meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in an effort to get him to give up nuclear weapons.
Meanwhile, Trump aides are negotiating with China about proposed tariffs that threaten to detonate a trader war between the world’s two biggest economies.
As also cited in Trump’s tweet, the administration is negotiating changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.
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