President Trump could sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller's investigators as soon as the next few weeks, though any cooperation from the president is being carefully negotiated right now, according to the Washington Post's Carol D. Leonnig.
Leonnig reports that Trump is eager to sit down with Mueller's team in an effort to clear his name, but his lawyers are understandably more cautious. They would like to set parameters for the discussion and possibly respond to certain questions via written answers, as President Ronald Reagan did with Iran-Contra.
In other words, there's a lot that hasn't been decided, and we don't know that Trump will even sit down for an interview at this point. But with the prospect of the president answering questions now on the table, it's worth reviewing a few things that badly need an explanation from the man at the center of this whole investigation.
Here are a few burning questions for Trump.
After Trump Jr.'s explanation of the meeting fell apart repeatedly, the Washington Post reported that the president himself had dictated Trump Jr.'s misleading statement that the meeting was about Russian adoptions and not the 2016 campaign. At the time, those close to Trump admitted it was a misstep for him to involve himself in the matter, especially in a way that could be interpreted as a cover-up. His team had reportedly planned to be more forthcoming before Trump intervened.
Trump should be asked why, exactly, he thought the statement should be changed and whether it's because he believed it would be wrong or illegal for the meeting to have been about dirt on Hillary Clinton (which is what Trump Jr. was promised). If he didn't think it was wrong, then why did he intervene at all and try to apparently obscure the truth?
Some have read this quote as an admission that Trump fired Comey because of Russia, but Trump doesn't state it so plainly. He said Russia was on his mind, but he didn't say that it was the reason he did it. That may seem like quibbling, but the legal standard for obstruction of justice is difficult to meet, especially when a president's broad executive authorities are involved.
It would be great to hear Trump explain his wayward comment to Holt more fully. And if he maintains he didn't fire Comey because of Russia, it would be great to hear why he even brought that up in the Holt interview.
This is related to No. 2, but given the sheer volume of things Trump has reportedly done that seem aimed at influencing the investigation, Mueller should get him on the record as denying any of the moves were intended to obstruct justice. Then, the investigators could ask about each one of them, including:
Flynn, during the transition period, spoke with Kislyak and asked Moscow not to respond forcefully to the sanctions Obama had imposed for Russian meddling in the 2016 election. He initially denied having discussed sanctions at all.
The question is whether he was acting at the direction of Trump and whether he made Kislyak any assurances about how the Trump administration would handle sanctions. Basically anything Trump knew about this whole back-and-forth seems worth probing.
A month ago, a Trump tweet said he had fired Flynn because Flynn lied to Vice President Mike Pence and to the FBI. The problem: At the time Trump fired Flynn, the public only knew he lied to Pence. And given Comey said Trump asked him for leniency for Flynn soon after firing him, this would mean Trump knew Flynn was under investigation when he sought to intervene on his behalf. In other words, another possible obstruction angle.
Trump's lawyer, John Dowd, later took responsibility for the tweet, saying it was sloppily worded and that Trump didn't actually know that Flynn was in trouble for lying to the FBI. Given the tweet, though, it would seem fair game to ask Trump what he knew at the time — and why, if he didn't know Flynn was under investigation, he would have even asked for leniency. (Trump has denied asking for leniency for Flynn, of course, which would also be good to get on the record in order to compare it with what others have told investigators.)
Trump previously denied that anybody in his campaign had contact with Russia. That's now completely fallen apart, so it's worth asking again and seeing how much he changes his statement. How much did Trump know about George Papadopoulos' attempts to broker contact with the Russians? Or about Trump Jr.'s meeting beforehand? Or about Trump Jr.'s contacts with WikiLeaks?