President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday afternoon that he would testify under oath to special counsel Robert Mueller’s team — and that he was “looking forward to it” — but that his lawyers are still working out the specifics.
This isn’t the final confirmation of the interview that the political world has been waiting for with bated breath. It isn’t even the first time Trump has suggested he’d be happy to talk with Mueller under oath — he did so last June.
But as Mueller’s team started talking with Trump’s lawyers about a sit-down in recent days, Trump began to sound more noncommittal. “When they have no collusion,” he said two weeks ago, “it seems unlikely that you’d even have an interview.” He added: “We’ll see what happens.”
So the president’s new comments Wednesday, made to Jonathan Karl of ABC News, do suggest an increasing openness toward a high-stakes sit-down with Mueller’s team, where he’d be at risk of perjuring himself.
I just asked @realDonaldTrump if he would be willing to talk to Mueller. He said yes - he would love to and he would be willing to do it under oath. Details to be worked out by lawyers.— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) January 24, 2018
Per Karl, Trump also said that he thought the interview could happen sometime in the next two or three weeks.
Of course, we should also keep in mind that the president repeatedly promised to release his tax returns, and then decided not to.
And even if Trump is serious about doing the interview, important questions remain about the format and topics. That’s what Trump’s lawyers and Mueller’s team have reportedly been negotiating in recent weeks.
A recent Washington Post report suggested Mueller wanted to question Trump specifically about the events surrounding his firings of two administration officials: National Security Adviser Michael Flynn, and FBI Director James Comey. Furthermore, per the report, Trump’s lawyers hoped to present his testimony “in a hybrid form — answering some questions in a face-to-face interview and others in a written statement.”
Trump’s lawyers have been publicly predicting that the Russia probe is winding down and that the presidential interview would merely make it even clearer that the president did nothing wrong. Others are more skeptical.