Rudy Giuliani

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, File

Giuliani: Odds Of Trump-Mueller Interview Are '50-50'

August 09, 2018 - 2:30 pm

WASHINGTON (WCBS 880/CBS News/AP) -- Presidential attorney and former mayor Rudy Giuliani said Thursday that he is “more optimistic” than he has been for weeks that a potential interview between President Donald Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller might occur.

When asked by CBS News Chief White House Correspondent Major Garrett what the odds were of an interview, Giuliani said: "I'd say 50-50." While the move may be seen as a PR stance to make the president appear more cooperative, Giuliani says that he expects a response from Mueller to their latest counter-proposal no later than Monday.

The two sides have gone back and forth over the scope and conditions of an interview as Mueller looks to understand whether the president acted with a criminal intent to stymie the investigation into possible coordination between his campaign and Russia.

Giuliani would not discuss exact details of the counter-proposal.  Negotiations into a possible sit down have been ongoing for months. 

“The big question is what questions would Robert Mueller, the special counsel, ask of the president? And it’s been the position of the Trump legal team that any question that touches on this issue of obstruction of justice should be off the table when it comes to the president’s decision to fire James Comey as the FBI director,” CBS News White House Correspondent Steven Portnoy told WCBS 880’s Wayne Cabot and Alex Silverman. “The Trump legal team’s position is that it would set a bad precedent to allow for a prosecutor to question the president about his use of the constitutional power to appoint officials or fire them.”

During an appearance on fellow Trump attorney Jay Sekulow's radio show Wednesday, Giuliani said that the president's legal team has responded to Mueller with a counter-offer for proposed terms of a possible presidential interview. Mueller responded to a previous letter sent by the Trump legal team last week, according to Giuliani. He told Sekulow what happens next is the president's decision.

Giuliani's says his optimism is grounded in a sense that Mueller may agree that questions surrounding obstruction of justice while Trump was president can be shelved because Trump had executive authority to fire Comey and did nothing obstructive in the Gen. Michael Flynn case.

If an impasse is reached, Mueller could theoretically issue a subpoena for Trump’s testimony.

“But it would no doubt be fought in court,” Portnoy said. “In fact, the president’s lawyers have vowed to take it into court, because they would like not to have this president or any president subject to a prosecutor’s subpoena. Now, this could ultimately go all the way to the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court has never definitively ruled that a president must submit to questioning when a prosecutor has questions for him as a witness in a criminal trial or criminal case.”

Giuliani also told Garrett that he doesn't believe Mueller could win a subpoena fight over Trump's testimony - at least not about actions taken as president. Giuliani's calculus was Mueller does not want this issue to drag into the midterm election season. The attorney also imagines Mueller has seen in the exchange of proposals an outline of what is doable and achievable to finish his report to Congress on Trump-related parts of his investigation.

Giuliani has previously said he wants this decision completed by Sept. 1.

(© 2018 WCBS 880. CBS News and The Associated Press contributed to this report.)