President Trump’s legal team is examining a federal court ruling from 1997 that could postpone, limit, or sidestep an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller, according to a new report.
The federal court case being scrutinized by Trump’s lawyers ruled that presidents and close advisers are granted some protections that prevent them from revealing information about their decision-making process and official actions.
Trump’s legal team is weighing whether the ruling could be the basis for avoiding full disclosure to Mueller, sources told the Wall Street Journal on Friday.
In the event that Trump turned down an interview with Mueller and was subsequently subpoenaed, Trump could push back against it, partially using the 1997 ruling. Additionally, he could also invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
The 1997 ruling would not apply to actions Trump made before he became president, leaving the campaign and transition period as free game.
Mueller, who is heading up the ongoing Russia probe, was chosen to be special counsel in May 2017 after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey. In June of last year it was reported by the Washington Post that Mueller's efforts had expanded to also look into whether Trump attempted to obstruct justice.
The report comes on the heels of Trump saying he is “looking forward” to being interviewed by Mueller. “I’m am looking forward to it, actually,” Trump told reporters on Wednesday, adding that he would be willing to speak with Mueller under oath.
White House lawyer Ty Cobb cautioned afterwards that Trump was in a rush and meant only that he was willing to meet with Mueller.
“He’s ready to meet with them, but he’ll be guided by the advice of his personal counsel,” Cobb told the New York Times.