Special Counsel Robert Mueller is reportedly seeking to interview President Donald Trump about potential obstruction of justice, ABC News reported on Wednesday.
Sources close to the investigation said: “the president learned within the last day that the special counsel will limit the scope of questioning and would like to ask questions both orally and written for the President to respond to.”
Sources said Mueller’s request fueled Trump’s Twitter meltdown on Wednesday morning, in which the president called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to “stop this rigged witch hunt before it continues to stain our country any further.”
..This is a terrible situation and Attorney General Jeff Sessions should stop this Rigged Witch Hunt right now, before it continues to stain our country any further. Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 1, 2018
This tweet is some of Trump’s strongest language yet against Mueller’s probe, nevermind the fact that Sessions recused himself from the investigation last year and doesn’t have the authority to end it. That power lies with Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who has vehemently defended Mueller and the investigation on numerous occasions.
Trump’s legal team, which includes former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, has been in negotiations with the special counsel’s office for months over how, if, and when Trump would face a potential interview with Mueller and his formidable team of prosecutors.
“We have a list of questions that are fairly narrowed but we are waiting on the special counsel’s response,” Giuliani told ABC last week. “They took about 10 days and yesterday we got a letter back for them. Now we’re in the process of responding to their proposal.”
Congressman Adam Schiff (D-CA), who co-chairs the House Intelligence Committee, said on Wednesday that Trump’s request may constitute obstruction of justice.
“The President of the United States just called on his Attorney General to put an end to an investigation in which the President, his family and campaign may be implicated,” Schiff tweeted. “This is an attempt to obstruct justice hiding in plain sight. America must never accept it.”
The President of the United States just called on his Attorney General to put an end to an investigation in which the President, his family and campaign may be implicated.
This is an attempt to obstruct justice hiding in plain sight. America must never accept it. https://t.co/F8b6a0IGOh
— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) August 1, 2018
Mueller has reportedly been scouring through Trump’s Twitter history for evidence that the president had “willful intent” to obstruct the investigation into Russian election interference and whether or not Trump’s presidential campaign conspired with the Kremlin to steal the 2016 election.
Trump’s call for Sessions to “stop the rigged witch hunt” may be another tidbit of proof Mueller can use to establish a pattern of conscious criminal behavior by the president.
Giuliani and Jay Sekulow, Trump’s other attorney, came to the president’s defense on Wednesday afternoon, telling the Washington Post that Trump’s tweet was merely his opinion and not a direct order to the attorney general.
“The president has issued no order or direction to the Department of Justice on this,” Sekulow said. Giuliani added that “it’s very well-established the president uses tweets to express his opinion,” noting that Trump “very carefully used the word ‘should.'”
Nevertheless, there has been a clear pattern of behavior coming from the Oval Office. Trump has, on multiple occasions, bemoaned Sessions for his recusal and has even suggested the attorney general should un-recuse himself.
“There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else! And I wish I did!” Trump tweeted in May.
….There are lots of really good lawyers in the country, he could have picked somebody else!” And I wish I did!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2018
Giuliani defended the president’s lamentation shortly thereafter. “‘Unrecuse’ doesn’t say, ‘Bury the investigation,'” Giuliani said. “It says on the face of it: Take responsibility for it and handle it correctly.”
Recusal or not, Trump’s relentless attacks on the special counsel, and thusly the rule of law and Justice Department are hinting at an ever more emerging possibility – that Trump has “conscience of guilt” and is bucking as the pillars of American justice close in on their pursuit of the truth.