On Tuesday, Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III celebrated his 74th birthday. On Wednesday, he got a late gift from Donald Trump’s legal team—a counter-offer to his request for an interview with the president as he continues his investigation into whether or not members of Trump’s campaign colluded with Russians in the 2016 presidential election.
Mueller has been trying to nail down an interview with the president since January. Trump attorney and former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani told NPR that this latest counter-offer may be the “last, best chance” for Mueller to get testimony from the president.
Giuliani clarified that this isn’t the White House’s final offer, nor are negotiations are off the table, but if Mueller’s team responded positively to the counter-offer, “we’d do it,” he said.
Giuliani told NPR that he thinks the negotiations are nearing their end and could wind up by Sept. 1.
If the two sides are not able to come to an agreement, Mueller does have the option of issuing a subpoena, thereby compelling a sitting president to give testimony.
For his part, Trump has openly said that he is willing to sit down with Mueller; it’s his legal team that has reservations. They want to make sure he is only asked questions on certain topics. They are open to the president answering questions about collusion, but they are less enthusiastic about him answering questions regarding obstruction of justice.
In Mueller’s last offer, he reportedly agreed to decrease the number of questions he would ask the president, but he did not agree to the Trump legal team’s request to avoid asking about obstruction of justice.
The back-and-forth negotiations between both sides could possibly delay Mueller’s investigation, but Giuliani said the Trump legal team will make a decision in the coming weeks as to whether or not the president will sit down with the special counsel for an interview.