Mueller's team, lawyers discuss possible Trump interview: NBC

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 08, 2018 8:58 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyers are talking to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about a possible interview with the president as part of Special Counsel Robert Mueller's probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election, NBC News reported on Monday.

Citing three people familiar with the situation, NBC said lawyers for Trump had met with representatives of Mueller's office in late December to discuss the logistics of any such interview.

They included the location and length of such an interview as well as legal standards and options for its format, including written responses instead of a formal sit-down, according to the news network.

Mueller has been appointed by the Justice Department to investigate allegations of Russian meddling in the November 2016 election and possible collusion with Trump's campaign.

U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the election to try to help Trump win. Russia has denied any meddling, and Trump has said there was no collusion.

Democratic U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal said in television interviews on Monday that he expected Mueller would try to talk to the president in person.

"He will interview the president face-to-face is my prediction," Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee that is conducting its own Russia investigation, told MSNBC.

Mueller's probe so far has led to two Trump associates, former national security adviser Michael Flynn and campaign aide George Papadopoulos, pleading guilty to lying to FBI agents.

Two others, Trump's former campaign manager Paul Manafort and his associate Richard Gates, were indicted on money laundering charges but have pleaded not guilty.

Trump lawyer Ty Cobb said the White House would not comment on communications with the Office of the Special Counsel but was continuing to cooperate fully. The spokesman for the special counsel's office, Peter Carr, declined to comment.

One of Trump's personal lawyers, John Dowd, declined to comment to Reuters.

Trump said on Saturday he was willing to speak with Mueller's team.

"There's been no collusion; there's been no crime," he told reporters at the Camp David presidential retreat in Maryland. "And in theory, everybody tells me I'm not under investigation."

Separately on Monday, Blumenthal and fellow Democratic Senator Sheldon Whitehouse asked Republican Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley to release the full transcript of an interview with Washington research firm Fusion GPS's chief executive conducted as part of the panel's own Russia probe.

(Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld and Mark Hosenball; writing by Susan Heavey; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Andrea Ricci)