Trump is litigious and cocky. He has been in lots of lawsuits and has taken the measure of lots of lawyers. He may be very confident that he can handle an interview. He may be certain he has not colluded with Russia and thus convinced there’s no need to worry.
Trust me, though: He has not been sweated before like he would be in a special-counsel interview. It would be a mistake to assume that because Mueller’s team overflows with Democratic partisans, they are just like the political hacks Trump jousts with all the time. These particular prosecutors are extraordinarily good at what they do. They are not going to be cowed or charmed. If Trump agrees to speak to them, he will not be able to control the direction of the questioning; and if he loses his cool and says things that are dubious or flatly untrue, they will clean his clock.
In other words: Trump the man could walk out of an interview with Mueller in real jeopardy, despite walking into it in nothing more than a bad mood. Which brings us to our other client: Trump the president.
A president of the United States should never be the subject of a criminal investigation, and should never be asked to provide testimony or evidence in a criminal investigation, in the absence of two things: solid evidence that a serious crime has been committed and a lack of any alternative means to acquire proof that is essential to the prosecution.
There is a simple reason for this: The awesome responsibilities of the presidency are more significant to the nation than the outcome of any particular criminal case. There is an exception: When there is reasonable cause to believe the president is complicit in a serious criminal offense, and that he has evidence or knowledge that would be admissible and probative. Only in those circumstances should a president be subject to subpoena, and only then should he submit to questioning. Trump has a responsibility to the office to enforce that standard.
As we have noted here since before Mueller was appointed, the Justice Department has improperly assigned a prosecutor in the absence of grounds to believe a crime has been committed. “Collusion with Russia” is not a crime, and there are presently no grounds to believe the president conspired with Putin’s regime to violate any American law.
The burden should be on Mueller to demonstrate the necessity of questioning the president in any form, not on the president to provide reasons for not submitting to questioning.
Mueller should put up or shut up. The American People deserve to know what Mueller has because it appears he has nothing because there was never anything to be had. We know for sure that Hillary made shady illegal deals with the Russians while she was Secretary of State. Why isn’t she being investigated?