"There is no excuse for him to fail to [testify] except of course that he is becoming increasingly desperate as the investigative vise tightens around the Oval Office."
As the Russia probe continues to inch its way closer to the Oval Office, Donald Trump is increasingly desperate to undermine the progress of special counsel Robert Mueller and his team of investigators. From the firing of senior FBI leadership to last week’s failed memo stunt, Trump has shown that cooperating with the investigation is the last thing on his priority list.
The latest sign of Trump’s desperation comes from his lawyers, who are reportedly urging him to refuse an interview with special counsel Mueller.
“His lawyers are concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators,” according to The New York Times.
But according to Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), if Trump refuses to testify, he’ll be subpoenaed by a grand jury. At that point, Trump would have to invoke the Fifth Amendment if he doesn’t want to talk a move that would be a “profound sign adding to the case for obstruction,” Blumenthal told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes Monday night.
But Trump may find himself facing legal consequences regardless of what he does.
On the one hand, if Trump testifies, he puts himself at risk of being charged for lying to federal investigators. On the other hand, if refuses to testify, he may end up bolstering the obstruction case building against him.
Although Trump has the legal right to refuse to be interviewed and to invoke the Fifth Amendment, “Politically and ethically, there really is no excuse for him to fail to be forthcoming in this investigation except of course that he is becoming increasingly desperate as the investigative vise tightens around the Oval Office,” Blumenthal noted.
“There is now a credible case of obstruction of justice against the president,” said the Democratic senator, who previously served as a U.S. attorney and attorney general for the state of Connecticut.
Blumenthal implied that Trump is likely aware of the legal jeopardy he is in, and said this may explain why Trump is acting in a way “that suggests he’s either delusional, desperate, or both.”
Besides the legal implications, “Rejecting an interview with Mr. Mueller also carries political consequences,” The New York Times noted. “It would be certain to prompt accusations that the president is hiding something, and a court fight could prolong the special counsel inquiry, casting a shadow over Republicans as Novembers midterm elections approach or beyond into the presidents re-election campaign.”
This is the second time in a day that Trump has found himself between a rock and a hard place.
Earlier on Monday, the GOP-controlled House Intelligence Committee voted unanimously to publish the Democratic rebuttal to the overhyped GOP memo released by the White House last week.
Now, Trump must decide whether to authorize the release of the counter-memo a document that is widely expected to discredit the contents of the GOP memo or keep it hidden, which would lend support to allegations that Trump declassified sensitive intelligence and risked national security for the sole purpose of providing political cover for himself.
Adding insult to injury, Trump can no longer point to the economy to distract from his legal troubles. On Monday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average suffered its largest single-day point drop ever marking the first time during Trump’s presidency that he has refused to take credit for the stock market.
If what they say is true that when it rains, it pours Trump may want to invest in a good umbrella.