Donald Trump has begun answering Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s questions about Trump-Russia collusion in writing today, according to CNN, several weeks after it was reported elsewhere that Mueller had offered to let Trump answer the questions in writing. Trump was realistically never going to sit with Mueller for a face to face interview, due to the enormous criminal liability involved in such an interview, so this was the best that Mueller was going to get from Trump. The question is why Trump is suddenly going along with it now.
First, we have to account for the strong possibility that Donald Trump’s legal team is simply lying to CNN, due to how often they lie in general. But there would be little reason to suddenly invent this lie and try to sell it to the public. So let’s assume for the moment that this is actually happening. Why wouldn’t Trump simply wait until after the midterms and see what kind of leverage (if any) he has at that point?
The most plausible explanation would be that Mueller gave Trump a deadline for responding to the questions, after which he would either subpoena Trump, or simply make his big move without getting Trump’s testimony first. This would suggest that Trump has blinked, because he’s afraid of what will happen if Mueller simply moves forward without Trump’s answers.
If Robert Mueller did spur Donald Trump into suddenly cooperating with written answers on Trump-Russia collusion, the timing is notable, as we’re just four weeks from the midterm elections. We’ve reached the point where Trump is being interviewed, which is the last step. When is Mueller looking to drop his bomb? Keep in mind that, despite popular myth, there are no hard and fast rules about timing with respect to the midterms, and there is no “quiet period.” Stay tuned.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report