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Understanding Mueller’s strategic approach to the interlocking criminal allegations against Trump and his inner circle as a criminal conspiracy through the use of federal and state criminal indictments.
(This is Article #03 in our Mueller Nation series reporting on how Mueller strategically plans on taking down a corrupt U.S. President.)
Trump forces Mueller to subpoena him.
Is Trump trying to force Mueller to subpoena him to appear before a federal grand jury in a last ditch dramatic legal maneuver to compel Trump’s testimony in the Russian Conspiracy Investigation? It appears likely that Trump will provide testimony in some form but it now appears Trump may have decided the best way to do so would be through a grand jury appearance and not a one on one interview with Mueller. This would give credence to Trump’s latest public position of wanting to speak with Mueller only “under oath”’. Attorneys for both sides have for months been exploring options over the site and scope of any questioning of the president. Trump would only be the second sitting president in the country’s history to be voluntarily summoned to appear before a grand jury. If Trump can force Muller into serving him with a grand jury subpoena Trump could force these discussions to be delayed indefinitely buying Trump much needed time to launch yet undisclosed constitutional challenges to the whole process of forcing him into a grand jury appearance at all.
How to force a sitting president to testify.
As we pointed out in Article Two in this series, Mueller now has enough evidence to file, three separate but related, predicated obstruction of justice indictments against Trump for repeated engagement of systemic obstruction of justice related to the Russian conspiracy. Mueller must now decide how he will force a sitting president, faced with a federal criminal indictment, to appear before his grand jury. A Trump forced subpoena could come as Trump’s grand jury testimony appears to be becoming less and less a reality. In weeks of fast-paced developments, countless plea deals have been struck, evidence and testimony has been gathered from co-operating witnesses and co-conspirators alike. One day, Mueller had witnesses before multiple grand juries. In previous grand jury indictments involving a president, Mueller or his predecessors would have taken a president’s testimony under oath at the White House with portions of such testimony being later read to grand jurors.
Trump’s secret to testifying “under oath”.
Trump continues to promise he will testify “under oath”, but he then immediately declines offers for a Mueller interview in an attempt to force Mueller into issuing a presidential grand jury subpoena for his appearance. Trump has declined multiple requests from Mueller to testify voluntarily in an interview instead of testifying before a grand jury. Trump’s strategy here is twofold. First, if Trump is successful in forcing Mueller into issuing a presidential grand jury subpoena, Trump’s legal team will immediately launch a constitutional challenge against Mueller’s authority to do so, sparking a constitutional crisis on the basis that a president can only be subpoenaed by the House of Representatives.
Second, if or when Trump is forced to testify he does not want to appear before the grand jury in person, preferring an arrangement where he would provide a deposition, most likely in a videotape. Under federal rules, lawyers do not accompany witnesses in the grand jury room. If Trump testified by deposition, as he has done several times before in past grand jury inquiries, his lawyers could be present and breaks in the questioning could be called so he could confer with them. Trump has repeatedly expressed public reservations about appearing before a grand jury in a case he feels is nothing more than politically motivated “fake news”. Trump doesn’t trust Mueller–pure and simple and Trump does not believe that refusing to testify would damage him politically.
Related Article: Trump lawyer backtracks on President’s promise to testify under oath to Russia probe, claiming he ‘spoke hurriedly’.
Will Trump’s testimony be given “under oath” or “not at all”.
At least two alternatives to a personal appearance by Trump are being proposed: Trump would give written answers to questions posed by Mueller or Trump would be questioned in a sworn deposition. In both alternatives Mueller’s prosecutors and Trump’s attorneys would be present. Trump could also give such a deposition by videotape. All of this is not without presence. Former President Reagan gave written answers in the Iran-contra investigation, and George Bush, then vice president, gave a deposition in the Iran-contra probe. In the final year of Bush’s presidency, prosecutors tried to question him directly, but he declined and prosecutors decided not to subpoena him. Even if a subpoena is served, it could be withdrawn if the sides are able to work out an agreement for how Trump would testify.
From Trump’s perspective he has been engaged in negotiations for months about whether or not he should possibly testify. Trump has given various explanations for his declining to give testimony, ranging from the constitutionality/legality of giving testimony at all to the form and substance such testimony would take. From Mueller’s perspective he has been engaged in investigations for months attempting to determine whether or not he can get Trump to testify without subpoenaing him. Maybe, the question Mueller is left pondering at this point is not whether Trump’s testimony will be given “under oath” but whether Trump’s testimony will be given “at all”.
(This is Article #02 in our Mueller Nation series reporting on how Mueller strategically plans on taking down a corrupt U.S. President.)
The article is a work of editorial opinion that reflects the author’s viewpoint as supported by factual evidence. This article may not represent the opinions of RDTDAILY.COM, its parent or affiliates.
Paul Cogan is a writer for the RDTDAILY.COM based in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. He specializes in coverage of justice, political, economic, and environmental news. You can follow Paul on
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