While originally presented as a product of the Special Counsel’s Office by The New York Times there’s pretty general agreement now that the 49 (or 48, reports still vary) questions are instead the notes of Jay Sekulow and other members of Trump’s legal team following a meeting with Robert Mueller in March.
This is kind of important for a few reasons. First of all it means that they don’t necessarily reflect the direction of the investigation, especially from Mueller’s standpoint. Were one to attribute a certain level of prosecutorial savvy (or duplicity, take your pick) they would only indicate where he wanted Trump’s lawyers to focus, making all of those Red Cape/Bull Fighting and Magician metaphors highly appropriate. Certainly I didn’t find any earth shattering bombshells in the specifics as most of this information is common public knowledge.
There are known knowns, there are known unknowns, but we don’t know what we don’t know- at least all of it.
Another thing I think is worthy of note is at last the Media has noticed what I told you over a week ago, Mueller doesn’t have to extend Trump the courtesy of an interview, he can subpoena his testimony in front of any of his 3 Grand Juries. This was settled by a unanimous Supreme Court decision in United States v. Nixon and Jones v. Clinton.
“Oh, this could take years and cost millions of lives.”
Well, congratulations on your Animal House trivia but probably not so much. No District or Appellate Court is going to rule against precedent on this one and as long as Justice Kennedy is still kicking it’s hard to see how you get a favorable ruling out of the Supremes. I suppose Roberts could delay it a bit, Gorsuch should recuse himself but probably won’t because he’s an asshole.
And Mueller doesn’t need Trump’s testimony anyway, it’s a matter of public record in his twits and interviews- case closed.
The timing is somewhat significant as it explains the March Meltdown (firing of McCabe, opening the personal front against Mueller and Rosenstein, and the departure of John Dowd and, just today, Ty Cobb. Trump wants fixers not lawyers and he wants this to go away. Much has been made of the addition of Emmet Flood who worked for Clinton. Well, Bill lost that case.
Speaking of timing, the final item I wish to draw your attention to today is, given this is a deliberate leak from the Trump side, what are they hoping to accomplish?
The obvious answer is that it is a part of their ongoing campaign to delegitimize the Mueller probe, at least in the eyes of their racist, bigoted, misogynous Republican base and recent polling indicates some effectiveness. While it is only about 35% of the electorate it is a majority of those who vote in Republican primaries and thus a useful tool to keep Republican Congresspeople from voting for impeachment (note: Institutional Democrats are cowardly avoiding the issue, especially Nancy Pelosi, as is most of the D.C. Press Corpse, yeah, you read that right) even if Trump acts to remove Rosenstein and Mueller.
More interesting from a tactical standpoint is speculation they are playing a “delay the decay” game and it’s designed to prepare people for their refusal to consent to a courtesy interview.
Now from a legal standpoint this makes perfect sense because their Client lies roughly 6.5 times a day, every day, and has recently been limbering up to 9 or more, any one of which is a Perjury Conviction, cut and dried black letter law, if made under oath.
Certainly the recent disclosure that Trump’s Team’s terms are a limited question list, made available in advance, not under oath (though lying is still a crime), and a short 2 – 3 hour time frame (less than a typical Congressional hearing), encourages that interpretation.
Mueller isn’t going to settle for that, he has the whip hand, the facts, and the law. Trump’s Team is just banging the table.