Tue, 16 Oct 2018

Giuliani's last offer for Trump testimony: This or nothing

By Sheetal Sukhija, New York State News
09 Aug 2018, 17:38 GMT+10

WASHINGTON, U.S. - The Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s latest proposal seeking U.S. President Donald Trump’s testimony as part of the Russia-Trump campaign collusion probe was rejected by the President’s legal team. 

On Wednesday, the President’s top attorney, Rudy Giuliani announced that the offer made by Mueller’s team last week, which laid out the ground rules for a potential interview, had been rejected.

He confirmed that a counteroffer had been made, but categorically clarified that the counteroffer made by the President’s team of lawyers may be the "last, best chance" Mueller has to secure Trump's testimony.

Last week, the former New York City Mayor confirmed that the President’s legal team had received Mueller’s letter with a proposal for a potential interview with Trump, which he said outlined interview parameters.

However, exactly a week after receiving Mueller’s offer, Giuliani and his team have not only rejected it, but have indicated to the Special Counsel that he would have to go by the President’s rules if he still seeks the testimony which is bound to be integral in the investigation. 

The Special Counsel’s team, which first raised the prospect of a face-to-face interview with the President at the start of this year, has been engaged in negotiations with Trump’s legal team since then. 

During this period, Trump’s legal team has undergone many changes and the entire reshuffle started initially because of Mueller’s quest to get the President’s testimony under oath.  

While Trump’s attorneys and advisers have been urging him to decline any offer for a face-to-face interview with the Special Counsel - Trump has contradicted them all and has repeatedly expressed his desire to talk to Mueller under oath. 

Meanwhile, despite many changes at its helm, Trump’s legal team has maintained that a verbal testimony by the President could prove disastrous since the chances of Trump going off script and incriminating himself through false statements would be very high. 

Yet, ever since he came onboard, Giuliani has kept negotiations ongoing, along with an aggressive line of attack on the Special Counsel’s investigation. 

Last week, Giuliani and his client, both even declared that “collusion is not a crime.”

The negotiations culminated on Wednesday after Giuliani rejected Mueller’s latest terms for the interview and made his final offer - with terms suitable to the President’s team of lawyers. 

Later on Wednesday, sources quoted in reports revealed that Giuliani’s counteroffer sought a narrow path for answering questions.

Giuliani said, "We have now given him an answer. Obviously, he should take a few days to consider it, but we should get this resolved. We do not want to run into the November elections. So back up from that, this should be over by September 1.”

Further, another Trump attorney Jay Sekulow too confirmed in a statement that his team had submitted a response to Mueller.

However, both Sekulow and Giuliani have declined to reveal details about the response sent to Mueller.

Previously, reports have revealed that negotiations have revolved around limiting any questions related to the other, potentially dangerous line of investigation being led by Mueller - the alleged obstruction of justice by the President. 

However, on Wednesday, Giuliani said in a media interview that the President’s attorneys would be willing to consider questions relating to any obstruction of justice inquiry as long as they are not "perjury traps.”

Meanwhile, other disagreements between Mueller and Trump’s team have revolved around offers by the President’s lawyers, to provide the special counsel written answers to obstruction questions.

In a separate media interview, Giuliani also stated that he wants negotiations over the presidential interview with Mueller to be completed by September 1. 

As an afterthought, Giuliani said that Republicans could benefit from dragging the process into the November midterm elections.

He explained, "When I first got involved, I would have told you not testifying would be the right legal strategy but then hurt politically. Now I'm thinking the continuance of the investigation would actually help because people are getting tired of it, and (the President) needs something to energize his voters because the Democrats look like they're energized. Nothing would energize (Republicans) more than, 'Let's save the President.'"

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