Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani said Friday that President Donald Trump would not agree to an interview with Russia special counsel Robert Mueller unless he proves that he has evidence that Trump committed a crime and that his testimony is essential to completing an investigation.
“If they can come to us and show us the basis and that it’s legitimate and that they have uncovered something, we can go from there and assess their objectivity,” Giuliani, who joined Trump’s personal legal team in April, told The New York Times in an interview.
He urged Mueller to end his probe soon and file a report and told the Times that Trump’s team planned to write its own summary of the case.
Giuliani acknowledged, however, that Mueller was unlikely to agree to the new conditions, leaving open the possibility that Trump would still agree to be interviewed.
A Mueller spokesman declined to comment. The special counsel could still subpoena Trump if he declines to testify.
According to the Times, Trump’s lawyers want Mueller to explain how he obtained the authority from the Justice Department to probe allegations of obstruction of justice from what began as a probe into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 election.
The president’s team also wants Mueller to provide evidence that his prosecutors have exhausted all other investigative avenues before seeking an interview with Trump — and that only he could provide answers to any questions that may be posed.
Giuliani’s position marks an even more aggressive stance to the Mueller investigation, as both the president and the former federal prosecutor step up the attacks on the probe.
In addition, Trump’s lawyers have contested a Mueller request to interview White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, the Times reports.
To date, a month after the request was made, Kelly has not met with prosecutors.
“That’s the new position,” Giuliani told the Times. “If they had made the request eight months ago, they would have said ‘yes’ because they thought there was a group of people on Mueller’s team who had an open mind and were objective.”
Giuliani was referring to President Trump’s previous lawyers, most of whom have departed.
The approach is apparently swaying public opinion, with a Washington Post-Schar School poll released Friday showing that 45 percent of Americans disapprove of how Mueller is handling the investigation.
That is down 14 points from January.
“Nobody is going to consider impeachment if public opinion has concluded this is an unfair investigation,” Giuliani told the Times, “and that’s why public opinion is so important.”