Trump has ‘not ruled out’ answering questions in Russia probe, says Giuliani

Mr Trump's personal lawyer backtracks on original statement the president answering questions was a 'no-go'

Mythili Sampathkumar
New York
Friday 07 September 2018 20:59 BST
Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor and Donald Trump's personal lawyer, backtracks his statement on whether the president will answer questions in the FBI's Russia probe
Rudy Giuliani, former New York City Mayor and Donald Trump's personal lawyer, backtracks his statement on whether the president will answer questions in the FBI's Russia probe (SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)

Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, has said the president may still answer special prosecutor Robert Mueller’s questions about possible obstruction of justice.

The former mayor of New York City backtracked on his original statement to the Associated Press, which he told the matter was a “no-go”.

Later, Mr Giuliani told NBC News the president has "not ruled in or out” whether to submit to questioning in the FBI investigation of alleged collusion between the 2016 campaign team and Russian officials, as well as any alleged efforts made by Mr Trump to derail the probe.

One such example of obstruction could be the May 2017 sacking of former FBI Director James Comey, despite the president’s legal ability to do so.

"We're very opposed to that [but] we're not closing it off 100 per cent," Mr Giuliani told Politico, adding that he did not “want to mislead [prosecutors] and have them think it's easy, but we have also not closed our mind to it".

He noted any questions regarding alleged obstruction are a “post-presidential” issue, not to be asked while Mr Trump was still in office.

He stopped short of explaining the legal reasoning behind his assessment.

Rudy Giuliani tells Chuck Todd: 'Truth isn't truth' when it comes to the Mueller investigation

"We have said we would agree to written questions on Russia after we review questions but no further commitment on interviews. After we finish this we will assess it with no agreement to any post-presidential questions,” Mr Giuliani said.

For his part, Mr Trump appeared to be willing to sit down with Mr Mueller and his team despite repeatedly calling the investigation a “witch hunt” and denying any collusion took place.

Mr Giuliani indicated the president’s personal legal team was still discussing the issue but that it would likely be resolved by next week.

No one from Mr Mueller’s team has made public statements about the process of the investigation, but the latest letter sent to the president’s personal lawyers left out any mention of questions about obstruction, the AP reported.

Legal experts have been discussing whether it is possible for Mr Mueller to subpoena the president and what kind of court battle could ensue as a result since the possibility was brought up in March 2018.

The US Supreme Court has not ruled on whether a sitting president can be compelled to testify in such situations, but once again the Russia probe is being compared to former President Richard Nixon and the Watergate scandal.

In 1974, the court had ruled Mr Nixon was obligated to provide recordings and documents that had been subpoenaed in the matter.

According to unnamed source who spoke to NBC News, besides firing Mr Comey, Mr Mueller wants to ask the president about attorney general Jeff Sessions’ recusal from matters relating to the FBI investigation and his role in drafting a statement about son Donald Trump Jr’s, son-in-law Jared Kushner, and former campaign manager Paul Manafort’s June 2016 meeting with Kremlin-linked lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.

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