For White House legal counsel, they may be the most disturbing five words uttered so far in the massive Russia investigation. President Trump said that he has finished working on questions submitted to him by the special counsel Robert Mueller, boasting, “I answered them very easily.”
The reports indicate that Donald Trump was given a few dozen questions which focused on Russian collusion and other matters prior to his inauguration.
That ignores what the questions did not include, a single query about Trump’s egregious obstruction of justice. That’s an ironic twist, since many people opposed the use of a special counsel following after the 2016 election but then changed their minds when Donald Trump unwisely fired the former FBI director James Comey during the Russia investigation. That tyrannical act triggered the obstruction probe and produced massive support for the independent investigator.
Mueller could be ready to hit Donald Trump with a subpoena so he must answer all the questions Mueller wants to ask. The hope for the Trump legal team is that his statement was just signature bravado and that Trump is yielding to legal counsel for his answers. The concern here is his penchant for making impulsive and stupid statements. Trump indicated that he might have gone off the rails when he ominously stated that the interview “didn’t take very long to do them.”
If Donald Trump believes these questions are just about if he personally colluded with Russians, he hasn’t been paying attention to the investigation. The Mueller indictments indicate that collusion is uninvolved in most of his prosecutions. Ex-Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort got prosecuted entirely for matters before the election and separate from the collusion allegations. Almost all of the American defendants who are left were charged with some unrelated crimes or with lying to investigators.
The point here is that it wasn’t easy for those criminals to answer the questions, however it was easy for Robert Mueller to indict them. Attorneys for Trump delayed submission of his answers because of concerns over “perjury trap” questions. If Donald Trump answers with any specificity at all, his responses will be compared with the testimony of several cooperating witnesses, like ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn and former Trump “fixer” Michael Cohen. When the statements by Donald Trump fail to match up, Congress will need to decide who is lying about the issue.