If the president agrees to be interviewed, it seems extremely likely he will lie about something. Not because the interview is unfair or a “perjury trap,” but simply because of the president’s well-documented casual relationship with the truth. The president’s own attorneys reportedly cited their fear that he would lie as a reason to advise him against the interview
.. He has to assume that a president who refuses a consensual interview will not willingly stroll into the grand jury. Trump’s lawyers would likely mount various legal challenges to the subpoena. Although precedent suggests Mueller ultimately would win that battle, there are no guarantees. And it would mean months of delay — even if the case were fast-tracked to the Supreme Court.
.. If the president ultimately did end up in the grand jury, he could then assert his Fifth Amendment right not to incriminate himself — and Mueller might still be left with nothing. Or the president could testify, and even if it did not go well, he would have delayed the investigation and any possible consequences, perhaps even past the midterm elections. Mueller may well decide he’s better off completing his work without spending significant time and resources
.. Maybe his lawyers will offer to answer written questions as a “compromise,” but those answers will be crafted by the attorneys, cannot be cross-examined and will not put Trump in jeopardy. The president can save face by claiming he was eager to step in the ring mano a mano with Mueller but his lawyers told him he shouldn’t. (You know how lawyers are.)
.. You can hear the interviews now: Republicans on Capitol Hill will say that while it’s “unhelpful” that Trump won’t agree to be interviewed, “on the other hand, there are some serious questions about the fairness of Mueller’s investigation . . . ”
And this is where the sustained attacks on Mueller and the FBI come into play. Trump and his allies will justify his refusal to cooperate or even his taking the Fifth by attacking the legitimacy of the investigation itself. They will claim Trump would not be treated fairly by Mueller and the “deep state” conspiracy that is out to get the president. And if recent history is any guide, this argument will resonate with the president’s base and his allies in right-wing media and Congress.
.. stonewall, delay and attack the investigators — that seems to be the president’s most likely course.