(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani, said there’s a “good chance” the president will decide next week whether to answer questions from Special Counsel Robert Mueller, a crucial choice that could shape the course of his presidency.
Trump hasn’t made a decision yet, and his legal team will spend the weekend doing research and reading through a Justice Department inspector general’s report to determine whether they can make a case that Mueller’s investigation is invalid because of findings of bias at the FBI, Giuliani said.
If Trump refuses to answer questions from federal investigators, Mueller could issue a grand jury subpoena, which Trump’s lawyers have said they would fight -- setting up both sides for a potentially protracted and politically perilous constitutional confrontation likely to go eventually to the Supreme Court.
Trump’s allies and former lawyers have warned him against doing an interview, fearing he could put himself in legal jeopardy by making false statements. Lying to federal investigators is a crime, even if the false statements aren’t made in sworn testimony.
“We are assessing the fact as to whether or not there should even be an investigation at this point,” Giuliani said. “One of the major take-aways from the report is that the investigation is infected by a tremendous amount of bias on the part of some of the agents involved.”
Mueller is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential campaign, possible collusion with those around Trump and whether the president sought to obstruct justice.
The report by the Justice Department’s watchdog on accusations of misconduct at the FBI didn’t touch directly on Mueller’s Russia probe, but Trump and his allies seized on it to undercut the investigation that has cast a shadow over the White House.
“If you read the IG report, I’ve been totally exonerated,” Trump said Friday of the 500-page report issued a day earlier by Inspector General Michael Horowitz. In an impromptu press conference on the White House lawn, the president told reporters “the Mueller investigation has been totally discredited.”
The report actually focused on decisions by former FBI Director James Comey in the 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email server, well before Trump fired Comey and Mueller was named to take over the separate inquiry.
Democrats said the inspector general’s report provided no grounds to undermine Mueller’s continuing investigation.
“Nothing in this report lays a glove on Mueller,” Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said Thursday. And while Comey mishandled the investigation into whether Clinton misused the email server as secretary of state, Schumer said, “it was Trump who benefited from all these mistakes.”
Trump’s lawyers have been in negotiations with Mueller’s team since the end of last year over terms of an interview. Mueller is intent on resolving the issue quickly, according to current and former U.S. officials. The two sides must find common ground or gear up for an unprecedented legal fight.
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