President Donald Trump‘s legal team has rejected Special Counsel Robert Mueller latest offer for an interview in the Russian investigation, but has put forward a counteroffer, the New York Times reported Wednesday night.

Trump claims he wants to sit down with the investigators but his lawyers have resisted, fearing he could end up lying to investigators based on his statements in an interview. The president has a history of making false statements in public and his lawyers worry he could get himself in trouble by answering questions in the Russia probe. His lawyers have warned the questions could be “perjury traps.” They did not reject an interview outright but included a counteroffer, that suggested a narrower field of questions.


The response marked the latest back and forth in the eight months of investigations and suggested how far apart the two sides remain. Mueller wants to question the president on a range of issues. The special counsel seeks to probe Trump’s ties to Russia, possible coordination between his campaign and Russia, Moscow’s election interference and whether the president sought to obstruct justice.


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Law enforcement officials who have worked with Mueller believe that he will try to use every tool he has to get the president to answer questions and that he will probably subpoena him to testify if he does not agree to be questioned voluntarily, according to the New York Times.

Trump’s lead lawyer, the former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, said in May that “we don’t have to” answer a subpoena, arguing that Trump could assert the executive privilege to quash such a move. Legal experts said Giuliani’s argument is unlikely to succeed, but the ultimate decision could be made by the Supreme Court.

Last week Guiliani said in an interview that the investigation from Mueller should brought to a close. “Put up or shut up,” he told reporters.

The only President who has been subpoenaed to testify was Bill Clinton during investigations into his relationship with Monica Lewinsky. He ultimately agreed to testify voluntarily, so the order was not put to the legal test.

In a 1974 case involving former President Richard Nixon, the high court ruled that executive privilege could not be used to avoid a subpoena for White House.

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