According to the Washington Post, Special Counsel Robert Mueller told President Donald Trump’s attorneys last month that while the President is currently under investigation, Mueller “does not consider him to be a target at this point.”
The Post reports:
In private negotiations in early March about a possible presidential interview, Mueller described Trump as a subject of his investigation into Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. Prosecutors view someone as a subject when that person has engaged in conduct that is under investigation but there is not sufficient evidence to bring charges.
The special counsel also told Trump’s lawyers that he is preparing a report about the president’s actions while in office and potential obstruction of justice, according to two people with knowledge of the conversations.
The Post also says that “the president has privately expressed relief at the description of his legal status.” (“Relief” is a pretty weird feeling to have if you’re not guilty of something.)
Mueller’s team isn’t done yet, however. “They said they want to write a report on this — to answer the public’s questions — and they need the president’s interview as the last step,” an anonymous source told the Post. (All of the Post’s main sources in this story are anonymous; Trump’s lawyers and Mueller’s office all declined comment.)
According to the Post, Trump’s lawyers are divided on whether or not Trump should agree to the interview:
Dowd told the president the case against him was weak, but warned Trump he could create criminal jeopardy for himself if he agreed to an interview and misspoke under oath, the friend said. Dowd repeatedly pointed to the Trump campaign advisers who have pleaded guilty to making false statements in the Mueller probe — including Flynn, adviser George Papadopoulos and former campaign official Rick Gates.
However, Sekulow and Cobb gave the president the opposite advice as Dowd: that it would be politically difficult for Trump to refuse to answer questions after insisting for months there was no collusion or crime, according to three people familiar with their advice.
Although the report is somewhat compelling, it doesn’t appear to say much that we didn’t already know. As former Nixon counsel John Dean, a Watergate whistleblower, said on Twitter:
Of course, that hasn’t stopped grifters who built their entire online personas around Trump and/or the Russia story from having their own takes on the WaPo report. From the right, it’s that this new report vindicates Trump and Mueller is attempting to entrap him with an interview, and from the Hashtag Resistance, it’s that Mueller has Trump dead to rights:
If liberals should take anything from this new report, it’s that betting on finding a smoking gun directly linking Trump’s win to Russian influence on the election—and more importantly, the President actually facing consequences for that—is far from a certainty. In order to beat Trump and stop the horrific agenda he’s implementing (which ultimately is the primary problem with this administration), the Democrats are going to actually have to run on what they’ll do, rather than who they’re not.