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Should Robert Mueller take his ‘last chance’ to speak to Trump?

While his lawyers want to avoid a showdown, the inartful dodger may be eager for one.

August 8, 2018

5:50 PM

8 August 2018

5:50 PM

The to-ing and fro-ing between President Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller over an interview is starting to look like Groundhog Day, the movie in which Bill Murray plays a weatherman who wakes up to the same day each morning. Today, the Trump team apparently rejected Mueller’s proposed parameter of questions and Trump adviser Rudy Giuliani observed, “We’re restating what we have been saying for months: It is time for the Office of Special Counsel to conclude its inquiry without further delay.” It could, he said, be Mueller’s “last, best chance” to speak with Trump.

If you believe the press reports, Trump himself is eager to persuade Mueller of his innocence, while his lawyers blanch at the prospect of possible perjury and don’t want any questions about obstruction of justice posed to the president. Given that this is Trump that we are talking about, it’s possible that he really does want to meet Mueller — and that he would answer any questions that he asks. Trump’s lawyers might seek to intercede, but Trump’s sheer volubility means that he could end up, even unprompted, talking about anything under the sun. Instead of contemplating a subpoena, Mueller might think about simply accepting Giuliani’s offer. He probably wouldn’t have to ask more than one or two questions to elicit a gusher of responses, many of which might be self-contradictory.

Another theory is that Trump wants to demonstrate that he can flout the rule of law. According to Frank Rich in New York magazine, “He doesn’t mind making himself vulnerable to punishment under the law because he doesn’t believe the law is legitimate or as powerful as he is. To him, jurisprudence is just another adversary to be bullied and mowed down like Little Marco or Crooked Hillary. That’s why the possibility of implicating himself in an obstruction case doesn’t really concern him. His plan is to destroy the rule of law before any case gets far enough to put him in legal jeopardy.”

The question, as always with Trump, is how coordinated any of his moves really are when it comes to dealing with his adversaries. For all his cunning, the sheer delusional properties of Trump can hardly be overstated. This is, after all, a man who tweeted only an hour ago in all capital letters, “RED WAVE!” in response to yesterday’s election results. Other presidents might be daunted by electoral numbers that suggest a wave, if not submersion, awaiting the Republican party in the November midterm elections. Not Trump. Already he is claiming credit for the exceedingly narrow margin by which it appears Troy Balderson won the special election for Congress in a ruby red Ohio district last night.

Even as the Democrats mount a comeback in opposition to Trump, his improbable victory in 2016 has imbued him with a lasting sense of presidential infallibility. But the red wave that Trump purports to discern is more likely than not to be a bloodbath. If the GOP loses the Senate and House in November, Trump, an inartful dodger, will blame it for failing to embrace him tightly enough.

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