President Trump’s personal attorney Rudolph W. Giuliani said Wednesday that the president’s decision on whether to sit for an interview with special counsel Robert S. Mueller III could be delayed until mid- to late July as his legal team assesses the impact of a new report by the Justice Department’s inspector general.
Giuliani said last week that he expected Trump and his attorneys to decide about a face-to-face interview by the end of this month. But in an interview Wednesday, Giuliani said the inspector-general report about the FBI’s conduct during the 2016 Hillary Clinton email investigation has upended that plan as the president and his team discuss the fallout.
“I’m advising him to stay put, to hold our horses a little,” Giuliani told The Washington Post, about an hour after Giuliani said he spoke with Trump. “I doubt August, and I doubt too far into July. But I do think things have changed.”
“I’d like to get it done, our part over to them by July 4th,” he said of a formal response to Mueller, but he added that developments at the Justice Department could lead him to advise the president to keep holding off.
Last week, Giuliani vowed to use the report to undermine the special-counsel probe.
Still, Giuliani said Wednesday that the Trump legal team continues to engage with Mueller’s team and will keep open the option of a sit-down interview. Giuliani said that if talks over an interview collapse in the coming weeks, he is unsure whether Mueller would issue a subpoena for the president to appear.
“We just don’t know,” Giuliani said. “They have an argument for it and against it. It could blow up in their face and they’d have to just file a report. At this point, they’re not pressing us.”
If the president agreed to a sit-down, the special counsel has told Trump’s attorneys that he could finish within roughly 90 days a report on whether Trump sought to obstruct a probe into Russian interference in the 2016 campaign, according to two people familiar with the discussions. A separate report outlining Mueller’s broader findings on Russian attempts to bolster Trump’s candidacy is expected to take longer.
In recent days, Trump and his allies have stepped up their attacks on the probe, seizing on the inspector general’s report, which detailed how then-FBI Director James B. Comey and other senior law enforcement officials veered away from Justice Department practice, policies and professional standards in their handling of the Clinton case.
Inspector General Michael Horowitz found no evidence that specific investigative decisions in the case were affected by the political biases of some at the FBI.
Giuliani on Tuesday night referred to the Mueller probe as a “kangaroo court” and suggested it would be malpractice for him to allow Trump to agree to an interview.
During an appearance on Fox News, Giuliani was asked by host Sean Hannity if he could “foresee any circumstances” under which he would allow Trump to appear before Mueller, who is investigating potential coordination between Russia and Trump’s campaign in 2016.
“Do I look crazy?” Giuliani responded. “So far, you know, I still have all my senses, and I’m a heck of a lawyer. And I get drummed out of the profession if I did. I mean, the reality is, you don’t put your client in a kangaroo court.”
Later, Giuliani said, “This is a witch hunt with no evidence, and nothing else but a bunch of people who hate him, hate Republicans, hate anything that he stands for, and vowed to get him no matter what.”
Mueller is a Republican, as is Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, who is overseeing the probe.
Trump and his supporters have sought to highlight text messages documented in the report between two senior FBI officials, agent Peter Strzok and lawyer Lisa Page, that reflected strong animus toward Trump, then the Republican presidential candidate.
Strzok had a leadership role in the investigation of Clinton’s use of a private email server while she was secretary of state, as well as the probe into whether the Trump campaign coordinated with Russia to influence the 2016 election.
Mueller removed Strzok from the Russia probe shortly after discovering his politically charged, anti-Trump text messages.
“The president has the same concerns that I have about all of this,” Giuliani told The Post. “At this point, he doesn’t want a decision to be made quickly [on an interview], but he wants to get [the probe] over with.”