President Trump would not have to comply with a subpoena issued by the special counsel investigating Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and could invoke the Fifth Amendment if he does sit down with him, one of his lawyers said Sunday.
“We don’t have to” comply with a subpoena, Rudolph W. Giuliani, the former New York mayor who recently joined Trump’s legal team, said in an interview on ABC News’s “This Week.” “He’s the president of the United States. We can assert the same privileges other presidents have.”
Giuliani’s claims comes less than a week after The Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert S. Mueller III, who is seeking to interview Trump, had raised the possibility of subpoenaing the president during a meeting this year. Trump has shaken up his legal team in recent days, seeking to take a more aggressive response to the probe that has engulfed much of his presidency.
During his interview Sunday with George Stephanopoulos, Giuliani repeatedly assailed Mueller’s probe, questioning why he would “walk him into a prosecution for perjury,” referring to the president, by letting Trump sit for an interview. Trump has publicly said he would speak to Mueller, but Giuliani said he was not prepared so far to make that happen.
“Not after the way they acted,” Giuliani said. “I came into this case with the desire to do that, and they keep convincing me not to do that.”
The uncertainty regarding whether Trump will sit for an interview with Mueller, which has played out both in public comments made by the president and his legal team as well as behind-the-scenes wrangling, could ultimately make its way to the Supreme Court if it is not resolved.
Giuliani acknowledged that Trump may well wind up testifying. When asked whether he is confident that Trump will not invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination, Giuliani said: “How can I be confident in that?”
Trump last week said he “would love to speak” to Mueller’s team.
“Nothing I want to do more because we did nothing wrong,” Trump told reporters Friday. But, he added: “I have to find that we’re going to be treated fairly. … Right now, it’s a pure witch hunt.”
In the television interview Sunday — much of which focused on Giuliani’s recent comments about the payment Trump’s lawyer Michael Cohen gave to adult-film star Stormy Daniels — Giuliani suggested that Mueller’s team was biased in favor of accounts from former FBI director James B. Comey.
Trump fired Comey last year, shortly before Mueller was appointed to take over the FBI investigation into Russian interference. The probe is also examining whether Trump sought to obstruct the investigation through his firing of Comey and other actions.
“The special counsel seems to think Comey is Moses,” he said. “I happen to think Comey is Judas.”
Giuliani suggested without evidence that the special counsel’s office was behind the release last week of questions that Trump’s lawyers say Mueller wants to ask the president. He also reiterated his call for Mueller’s probe to be shut down, repeatedly highlighting a federal judge’s remarks last week suggesting that the special counsel’s team is seeking information on Trump that could “lead to his prosecution or impeachment.”
He also defended Trump’s ability to pardon people while saying that a pardon for Cohen, the president’s lawyer, “has not been discussed.”
Cohen told a federal judge recently that he will invoke the Fifth Amendment in a lawsuit brought against him by Daniels.
This story, first published at 10:10 a.m., has been updated.