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Trump's legal team responds to Mueller regarding interview

Posted: 7:56 AM, Aug 08, 2018
Updated: 2018-08-08 20:52:35Z

Rudy Giuliani said Wednesday that President Donald Trump's legal team has responded to the special counsel, the latest effort in ongoing negotiations over a possible interview.

"We have now given him an answer. Obviously, he should take a few days to consider it, but we should get this resolved," Giuliani said during an interview on the radio show of fellow Trump attorney Jay Sekulow.

"We do not want to run into the November elections. So back up from that, this should be over by September 1," Giuliani said.

Sekulow confirmed in a statement that the legal team "responded in writing to the latest proposal" from the special counsel, but declined to comment on the substance of the response.

Giuliani had previously told CNN that the team planned to send its counteroffer to special counsel Robert Mueller regarding a potential interview on Wednesday.

"It is a good faith attempt to reach an agreement," Giuliani, one of Trump's lawyers on the Russia investigation, told CNN.

The former New York City mayor similarly would not describe the contents of the counteroffer, except to say that "there is an area where we could agree, if they agree."

Giuliani wouldn't say if that area has to do with collusion or obstruction.

The President has previously said that he wants to speak with the special counsel and has insisted there was no collusion or obstruction, while deriding the investigation as a "witch hunt."

But Trump's public attacks on the Russia probe have sparked questions over whether his actions could constitute obstruction of justice. Those questions intensified earlier this month when the President called on Attorney General Jeff Sessions to shut down the investigation, an escalation that Giuliani attempted to downplay as Trump merely expressing an opinion.

The President's team has sought to limit any potential interview to questions about collusion. But Giuliani told CNN they would be willing to consider questions relating to any obstruction of justice inquiry as long as they are not "perjury traps," a phrase favored by the Trump legal team as a way to raise questions about the fairness of the special counsel, though it also speaks to the risks of having the President sit down for an interview.

"For example: 'What did you say about Flynn?' 'Why did you fire Comey?'" They already know our answer," Giuliani said, referring to former national security adviser Michael Flynn and former FBI director James Comey, whom Trump abruptly fired in May 2017. The former FBI director later testified to Congress that Trump had pressed him to drop an investigation into Flynn, a claim that Trump has denied.

"If they can show us something in that area that didn't involve those direct questions, that we don't consider perjury traps, we would consider it," Giuliani said, but conceded he "can't think of what that would be."

Mueller has indicated to the team that the special counsel wants to ask the President obstruction questions in an interview.

The President's lawyers had previously offered the special counsel written answers to obstruction questions and limiting the interview to matters before his presidential inauguration, which are largely confined to collusion.

The back and forth over an interview comes as the special counsel investigation faces its first major test in court as Trump's former campaign chairman Paul Manafort stands trial in the Eastern District of Virginia where he is accused of bank fraud, tax evasion and other financial crimes.

Manafort's case isn't about the 2016 presidential campaign, but he is the first defendant Mueller's team has taken to trial.