Former criminal investigator and prosecutor explains how Robert Mueller now has Trump trapped in a corner he cannot escape.
In a bombshell article, The New York Times reported last night that “Robert S. Mueller III, the special counsel investigating Russia’s election interference, has at least four dozen questions on an exhaustive array of subjects he wants to ask President Trump to learn more about his ties to Russia and determine whether he obstructed the inquiry itself, according to a list of the questions obtained by The New York Times.”
The New York Times published the questions in a separate article “along with the context and significance of each. The questions fall into categories based on four broad subjects. They are not quoted verbatim, and some were condensed.”
Those subjects are as follows:
- Questions related to Michael T. Flynn, the former national security adviser
- Questions related to James B. Comey, the former F.B.I. director
- Questions related to Attorney General Jeff Sessions
- Questions related to Campaign Coordination With Russia
Former criminal investigator and criminal defense attorney, Seth Abramson, weighed in on Mueller’s questions in a Twitter thread and drew an additional conclusion that we will discuss first.
Abramson posted a link to the article by The New York Times revealing Mueller’s questions for Trump. The following brief conversation via Twitter comments ensued:
- Doesn’t this just mean he has more time to rehearse his lies now that he knows the questions?
- That’s what they want, felony to lie…..making sure he will go down one way or another!
- I like this thought. Give him no time to prep and maybe he clumsily tells the truth. But if you can catch him in a well-crafted lie, that seems to just add to the charges.
- The truth is a crime. Lying is a crime. How would preparing help Trump? It won’t. He has to refuse testimony, or rack up many felonies.
Abramson weighed in, commenting on the last tweet which was posted by science fiction writer Hugh Howey, tweeting:
- Yes—this is what I’ve been telling people. Certain questions you can prepare a “perfect” answer for (e.g., “What were you thinking when…”) but action-oriented questions (e.g., “Did you…”) can’t be prepared for when—as Hugh says—both the truth *and* the cover story are crimes.
- Mueller is asking the thought-oriented questions not to inculpate/exculpate Trump but to learn how he’ll need to frame his documentary/testimonial evidence to pierce Trump’s—now nailed-down—lies. Action-oriented questions are the ones that could lead to felony charges for lying.
Abramson provided an analysis of nine of the questions Robert Mueller wants to ask Trump about possible obstruction of justice.
He begins, tweeting: “Clearly Mueller suspects acts of Obstruction we don’t know about,” before going into his analysis, below:
- Q: What did you think and do in reaction to the news that the special counsel was speaking to Mr. Rogers, Mr. Pompeo and Mr. Coats? We know Trump instinctively witness-tampers if he knows someone is a witness.
- Q: When did you become aware of the Trump Tower meeting? This is my favorite question—as the chances Trump will commit a crime by lying in his answer are 100%. I’m serious—Trump definitely lied about when he learned of this meeting, but he can’t now come clean. It’s too late.
- Q: What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding any meeting with Mr. Putin? Did you discuss it with others? This question is far more complicated than it seems, and once again the chance Trump will (indeed must) lie in his response—committing a felony—is 100%.
- Q: What discussions did you have during the campaign regarding Russian sanctions? With Flynn cooperating and Sessions likely to cooperate, this question is impossible for Trump to answer truthfully. He had *many* inappropriate, possibly illegal conversations about sanctions.
- Q: What involvement did you have concerning platform changes regarding arming Ukraine? Whether Trump can answer this honestly (i.e. whether he’ll be caught lying) depends on (a) what Gates has told Mueller as part of his plea deal, and (b) if J.D. Gordon lied/lies to Mueller.
- Q: What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign? Another certain felony here for Making False Statements—as there were so many contacts Trump undoubtedly knew of that this question is a series of huge traps.
- Q: What did you know during the transition about an attempt to establish backchannel communication to Russia, and Kushner’s efforts? This one’s good because Trump’s lawyers don’t know how illegal—or not—Mueller thinks Jared’s actions were, so they don’t know if Trump can lie.
- Q: What do you know about a 2017 meeting in Seychelles involving Erik Prince? Trump will lie in answering this. No choice—he has to.
- Q: What do you know about a Ukrainian peace proposal provided to Mr. Cohen in 2017? Trump will lie in answering this. No choice—he has to.
What’s clear from these questions is that Trump’s lawyers MUST stop him from giving ANY interview to Bob Mueller. And indeed I believe they will. No defense attorney in America would allow a client to answer these questions when it’s SO CLEAR that the client will—*must*—lie.