President Trump will not answer any more questions from Mueller: Giuliani
By Karen Freifeld
(Reuters) – Lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump have told special counsel Robert Mueller that he will not answer any more questions in the probe of Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election, Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani told Reuters on Wednesday.
Trump submitted written answers to questions from Mueller in late November. In an interview with Reuters, Giuliani said Mueller raised the possibility of follow-up questions but that the president’s outside legal team told the special counsel before Christmas that Trump would not respond.
Trump’s lawyers and Mueller’s team have had no contact since then, Giuliani said.
“As far as we’re concerned, everything is over,” Giuliani told Reuters. “We weren’t convinced they had any questions they don’t know the answer to.”
Giuliani said the ball was now in the special counsel’s court. “They could try to subpoena him if they want,” he said. “But they know we could fight that like hell.”
Peter Carr, a spokesman for Mueller, declined to comment.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election to try to help Trump win.
Trump has denied any collusion with Moscow and Russia has said it did not meddle in the election.
Mueller was appointed in May 2017 to investigate the Russian interference and possible collusion with the Trump campaign. It is unclear when the probe, which has clouded Trump’s first two years in office, will end.
Trump answered Mueller’s campaign-related questions focused on Russia in November. However, Giuliani told Reuters at the time, he would not answer questions on whether he tried to obstruct the investigation once he won office, such as by firing former FBI Director James Comey.
In his latest interview, the president’s lawyer said it was time for the special counsel to issue his report. “Put up or shut up,” Giuliani said. “We challenge you to do it.”
When Mueller ends his investigation, he will send a report on his findings to the Justice Department. It is unclear if the report will be made public.
Since at least last summer, Trump’s legal team has been drafting a rebuttal in preparation for Mueller’s report. Giuliani said the team also was ready to respond to legal issues raised by the hush money paid to an adult film star and a former Playboy playmate before the 2016 election.
Former Trump lawyer Michael Cohen was sentenced last month to three years in prison for crimes including orchestrating the payments in violation of campaign finance laws. When he pleaded guilty, Cohen said he was directed by Trump.
“We have a memo from a number of campaign finance experts that paying what they call hush money, since it has a personal purpose, is not considered a campaign contribution,” Giuliani said. “Therefore it’s not a violation of the campaign finance law.”
Giuliani said it is unclear to the legal team whether acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker or Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein is now in charge of the investigation.
Rosenstein, who is preparing to leave his job soon after attorney general nominee William Barr takes office, has overseen the Mueller probe since former Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself in 2017.
(Reporting by Karen Freifeld in New York; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)