The special counsel leading the Russia investigation raised the prospect in March of issuing a grand jury subpoena for President Donald Trump, his former attorney said, confirming that investigators have floated the extraordinary idea of forcing a sitting president to testify under oath.
Attorney John Dowd told The Associated Press on Tuesday that special counsel Robert Mueller’s team broached the subject during a meeting with Trump’s legal team while they were negotiating the terms of a possible interview with the president. It was not immediately clear in what context the possibility of a subpoena was raised or how serious Mueller’s prosecutors were about the move. Mueller is probing not only Russian election interference and possible coordination with Trump associates but possible obstruction of justice by Trump.
Even if Mueller’s team decided to subpoena Trump as part of the investigation, he could still fight it in court or refuse to answer questions by invoking his Fifth Amendment protection from self-incrimination. Dowd’s comments come more than a month after he resigned from the legal team, and they provide a new window into the nature of the Trump lawyers’ interactions with the special counsel, whom the president has increasingly tried to undermine through public attacks.
On Tuesday, Trump said it was “disgraceful” that a list of proposed questions drafted in response to Mueller’s negotiations with the legal team was “leaked” to the news media.
So disgraceful that the questions concerning the Russian Witch Hunt were “leaked” to the media. No questions on Collusion. Oh, I see…you have a made up, phony crime, Collusion, that never existed, and an investigation begun with illegally leaked classified information. Nice!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 1, 2018
The about four dozen questions were compiled by Trump’s lawyers during negotiations with Mueller’s investigators earlier this year over the prospect of a presidential interview. A person familiar with the matter, who insisted on anonymity to discuss ongoing negotiations, told the AP that the president’s lawyers extrapolated the list of expected questions based off conversations with Mueller’s team about the topics prosecutors wanted to cover in a potential sit down with Trump. The questions reflected what the defense lawyers anticipated Trump would be asked, rather than verbatim queries that Mueller’s team provided, the person said.