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Trump's legal team prepares for showdown with Mueller

President Donald Trump's lawyers are preparing for a legal showdown with special counsel Robert Mueller, according to...

Posted: May 2, 2018 12:16 PM
Updated: May 2, 2018 12:16 PM

President Donald Trump's lawyers are preparing for a legal showdown with special counsel Robert Mueller, according to sources familiar with their thinking.

Trump's legal team is bracing for the dramatic possibility that Mueller would subpoena the President, setting up a collision that could force a lengthy court fight and test the legal limits of the President's power all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Mueller has raised the possibility of a presidential subpoena in at least one meeting, according to two sources. But some of the President's legal advisers are gambling that Mueller would not go that far. The Washington Post first reported on the subpoena threat.

The already slim chances of Trump sitting for a voluntary interview with Mueller's investigators are growing dimmer, sources close to the President say.

Asked whether the President would ever plead the Fifth Amendment to avoid answering questions, two sources said the legal team believes there are many "constitutional challenges" that would need to be met before that possibility even would be considered.

Trump's lawyers are careful to say that the President hasn't shut the door to a possible agreement for an interview. His new legal team is still assessing that before making a recommendation, sources say.

If Trump refuses to give a voluntary interview, prosecutors could issue a subpoena compelling testimony.

The leaking of a version of Mueller's potential questions for the President, first published by The New York Times, and the President's reaction on Twitter underscore where the issue is moving, sources say.

Trump himself has told reporters he'd speak with the special counsel, and the President's legal team initially claimed that an interview could happen under the right terms.

The President's lawyers said they wanted to finish the interview quickly, claiming it would help end the special counsel's investigation.

But after the April 9 raid of his personal attorney, Michael Cohen, the President's view of sitting down with Mueller had a "seismic shift," according to one source -- from yes toward no.

Many legal observers believe that if Mueller issues a grand jury subpoena for Trump's testimony, the courts will order the President to comply, because the Supreme Court has repeatedly ordered presidents to comply with subpoenas.

During independent counsel Kenneth Starr's investigation of President Bill Clinton related to Monica Lewinsky, prosecutors eventually subpoenaed the president for grand jury testimony. Clinton's lawyers attempted to delay Clinton from speaking to prosecutors for months and told a federal judge they would avoid arguing the issue in court. They ultimately agreed to let Clinton appear before the grand jury without the weight of a subpoena.

In 1974, in United States v. Nixon, the Justices unanimously directed President Richard Nixon to comply with a criminal trial subpoena for the White House tapes. And in 1997, in Clinton v. Jones, the Court directed Clinton to comply with a subpoena for his deposition in Paula Jones' civil sexual harassment lawsuit against him.

Yet if Mueller attempts to force Trump to testify under subpoena -- as many legal analysts suspect could happen -- the sources familiar with the thinking of Trump's legal team say they believe Trump could successfully challenge the subpoena all the way to the Supreme Court.

One of the sources says the legal team views a subpoena for a presidential interview as "precipitating a constitutional crisis."

The Trump team's legal argument, according to multiple sources, is that they believe the special counsel does not have the authority to force a President to appear before a grand jury.

They also believe that Article II of the Constitution, which defines the office of the President, prevents the high court from ordering an investigation into the President's use of his executive powers. In this case, that could include the hiring and firing of persons like former national security adviser Michael Flynn and ex-FBI Director James Comey.

Their political argument also has changed. While the lawyers were originally in a let's-get-this-over-with mode, they now believe that time is on their side -- especially with the 2018 elections looming.

They believe that Trump has done a good job discrediting the investigators and the investigation itself.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 95310

Reported Deaths: 2874
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7063159
DeSoto552159
Harrison382973
Jackson345670
Madison326586
Rankin325677
Lee268368
Jones246879
Forrest245571
Washington221972
Lafayette215439
Lauderdale2044125
Bolivar182366
Oktibbeha177350
Lamar167534
Neshoba1559104
Lowndes152658
Panola146328
Sunflower144546
Warren140250
Leflore139581
Pontotoc125916
Pike123050
Monroe122168
Scott117327
Copiah117133
Coahoma115028
Holmes109558
Marshall109217
Lincoln108353
Grenada107736
Yazoo105530
Simpson102544
Union99324
Tate97637
Leake95338
Adams93037
Wayne89421
Pearl River87353
Marion85735
Prentiss84417
Covington81922
Itawamba79421
Alcorn79111
Newton76723
George76513
Tallahatchie76321
Winston73719
Tishomingo67238
Chickasaw67024
Tippah66517
Attala65425
Walthall59825
Clay58918
Clarke58145
Hancock57721
Jasper56815
Noxubee54816
Smith53114
Calhoun51312
Tunica48313
Claiborne46216
Montgomery45920
Lawrence43112
Yalobusha42814
Perry41918
Humphreys37615
Quitman3725
Stone37012
Greene36617
Jefferson Davis33911
Webster33613
Amite32510
Carroll31512
Wilkinson30318
Kemper28815
Sharkey26513
Jefferson2449
Benton2252
Franklin1923
Choctaw1816
Issaquena1043
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Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 133433

Reported Deaths: 2349
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19441349
Mobile13271291
Montgomery8778179
Madison775480
Tuscaloosa7496119
Shelby584951
Lee582961
Baldwin516550
Marshall390944
Calhoun346641
Etowah342047
Morgan325428
Houston278123
Elmore263247
DeKalb239120
Walker228483
St. Clair227837
Talladega212728
Limestone206120
Cullman188519
Dallas177426
Franklin175529
Russell17442
Autauga173825
Lauderdale168233
Colbert163626
Blount159415
Escambia158425
Jackson154611
Chilton153531
Dale135444
Covington134427
Coffee13078
Pike11879
Chambers115142
Tallapoosa114685
Clarke107717
Marion95729
Butler91339
Barbour8577
Winston73712
Marengo70820
Lowndes65327
Pickens65114
Bibb64210
Randolph63713
Hale62828
Lawrence60922
Geneva5995
Bullock59814
Cherokee59115
Monroe5818
Clay5707
Washington55613
Perry5407
Conecuh53111
Crenshaw53132
Wilcox53111
Henry4865
Macon48020
Fayette4438
Sumter43419
Lamar3632
Choctaw34612
Cleburne3396
Greene30315
Coosa1673
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