Why Trump said he's 'looking forward' to speaking with Mueller

Once again, President Trump is shaping the national discussion to his advantage. He intervened in a background briefing for White House media being conducted by General Kelly to make on-the-record (but off-camera) comments to the media and appears to have shocked many with his comment:

“I would love to do it, and I would like to do it as soon as possible,” Trump told reporters at the White House. “I would do it under oath, absolutely.”

His expressed willingness to speak face-to-face with Mueller and his team resulted in a blizzard of commentary emphasizing the risks of doing so. The opportunity to portray him as foolish was irresistible to, for example, Vanity Fair, which headlined: “Trump’s overconfidence could be Mueller’s secret weapon.”

President Trump is used to being called stupid and worse (an Alzheimer’s sufferer, for example). But by chumming the waters with his purported recklessness, he got his journalistic enemies all of sudden cautioning him and their audiences about the extreme danger of speaking directly to prosecutors looking for a perjury trap:

…Mueller’s team—a murderers’ row of 17 lawyers, sequestered at an undisclosed location in southwest Washington—has undoubtedly been preparing for a possible interview. Andrew Weissmann, one of Mueller’s top investigators, is known to be particularly methodical. “Andrew is super-thorough, persistent, and factual,” Buell said. “He’ll know the record cold, and he’ll be a good listener, to see if he really gets an answer to the question he’s asked.”

CNN was also helpful:

Many legal analysts, including Paul Callan, argue that no skilled attorney worth his salt would ever advise the President to agree to a sit-down interview with special counsel Robert Mueller. The most common -- and safest -- criminal defense strategy places a premium on limiting exposure for a client. A shut mouth catches no flies, as the old saying goes.

Note that President Trump has not committed to speaking directly to Mueller, because he must consult his lawyers. This is a variant of the “Good cop/bad cop” strategy. He knows that he cannot totally flout a demand for his testimony, so the key is to place conditions on the testimony. That role will be taken by his “bad cop” lawyers, probably his personal counsel Ty Cobb. He is in the position of wanting to speak fully and candidly, but his lawyers insist on various conditions, such as (maybe) receiving written questions in advance and limiting the subject matter to matters directly related to “Russian collusion” -- the entire basis for the appointment of Mueller. And, it seems clear that Trump is convinced no such collusion took place, and that Mueller’s team have not found any such evidence of it to leak to the media.

Now that his severest critics have taken the positon that, yes, it is risky to speak directly, that perjury traps can be laid,  his lawyers can reasonably hold that the interrogation should be limited. They can even cite the cautions his media antagonists have enumerated.

Trump has enlisted his enemies in popularizing notions that work to his advantage: that perjury traps can be set unrelated to the underlying purpose of the investigation and that only a fool would permit that.

He is playing the media the way Itzhak Perlman plays his Stradivarius violin.

If you experience technical problems, please write to helpdesk@americanthinker.com