President Trump reportedly has not been given a certain date for when the special counsel’s investigation will end, contrary to what his lawyer Rudy Giuliani has claimed. The New York Times reported:
At the same time, Mr. Giuliani, a former New York mayor, in recent days has publicly outlined limits for the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III. Mr. Giuliani said that any interview of Mr. Trump by prosecutors could last no more than two hours, that Mr. Mueller had accepted the view that he does not have the power to indict a sitting president and that Mr. Mueller hopes to wrap up the obstruction of justice part of his investigation by Sept. 1.
Mr. Mueller has agreed to none of those publicly, and in the weeks since Mr. Giuliani began representing Mr. Trump, the former mayor has contradicted himself and the president on several occasions, so it is not known whether he reflects the special counsel’s views.
(Reuters reported that the Sept. 1 date was “entirely made-up,” according to a source familiar with the probe.) Giuliani can try to impose limits on a voluntary interview, but Mueller has the power of subpoena. Trump can throw around baseless allegations regarding a “planted spy,” but the pace at which these get batted down has picked up since he floated the spurious accusation that President Barack Obama “wiretapped” Trump Tower.
Trump and Giuliani can howl about the raid on Trump attorney Michael Cohen’s office, hotel and home, but the walls are closing in on Cohen. “A significant business partner of Michael D. Cohen, President Trump’s personal lawyer, has agreed to cooperate with the government as a potential witness, a development that could be used as leverage to pressure Mr. Cohen to work with the special counsel examining Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election,” the New York Times reported. “Under the deal reached with the New York attorney general’s office, the partner, Evgeny A. Freidman, a Russian immigrant who is known as the Taxi King, specifically agreed to assist government prosecutors in state or federal investigations, according to a person briefed on the matter.”
Yet another Trump confidant, Roger Stone, is seeing his associates subpoenaed and is now “prepared” for his own possible indictment.
In short, Trump’s theatrics bear little resemblance to the progress of the investigation, which continues to ferret out details of mysterious meetings in the Seychelles between Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater; Kirill Dmitriev, the director of one of Russia’s sovereign wealth funds; and Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed Al-Nahyan of the United Arab Emirates. (“The inquiry into the meetings in the Seychelles suggests there is growing interest on the Mueller team in whether foreign financing, specifically from Gulf states, has influenced President Trump and his administration.”) These meetings were apparently brokered by none other than George Nader, who also played a role in a meeting between Donald Trump Jr., an Israeli social media guru and a representative of the UAE and Saudi Arabia.
The number of witnesses and leads is growing, not shrinking. Trump is now seeing two of his closest associates (Stone and Cohen) being squeezed (although not yet indicted) and a whole new source of foreign money and influence-peddling apart from Russia being probed. Mueller’s prosecutors, who are expert in financial investigations, are, quite bluntly, having a field day as they track money and witnesses around the world. This sure doesn’t seem to be wrapping up.
And finally, Giuliani’s notion that Mueller should stick to Russia — not investigate possible obstruction — is ludicrous. Presidents can commit crimes in office (although the timing of indictments remains an issue); no prosecutor having come across a pattern of obstruction can ignore it.
In sum, Giuliani and Trump are flailing away, trying to contain the prosecutors. They are fighting a losing battle. Mueller is chasing down each and every lead, just as he should.