Trump hopes to convince Mueller and his investigators to end their inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 election and has told the lawyers to try to reach an agreement that would allow him to be interviewed, the Times reported, citing three people familiar with the discussions.
The president’s legal team has urged him to refuse the request, fearing that Trump, known for making off-the-cuff statements, will contradict himself.
Negotiations between the White House and special counsel’s office have reportedly been tossed back and forth for months, often growing heated. John Dowd, Trump’s lead lawyer on matters related to the Russia investigation, resigned in March amid reports that the president was planning to ignore his advice and sit down with Mueller anyway.
The Times noted that Mueller sent his latest proposal for interview parameters to the White House on Tuesday and that he has conceded on several points in an effort to entice the president to his office.
Investigators have agreed to accept some written answers, although they still hope to question Trump about a sweeping set of decisions, including his thinking behind the dismissal of FBI Director James Comey and his tweets attacking Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Mueller himself.
“We’re in the process of responding to their proposal,” Rudy Giuliani, the president’s attorney, told the Times in a statement.
Trump has long hoped that by speaking with Mueller he could bring the inquiry to a close. In January, he said that he would be willing to speak with Mueller’s team under oath and that he hoped to do so “as soon as possible.”
Mueller has threatened to subpoena Trump if his lawyers ultimately refuse the request, a showdown that could lead to a prolonged legal battle.
The president has continued to call Mueller’s investigation a “witch hunt” and on Wednesday called on Sessions to “stop” it “right now, before it continues to stain our country any further.”
“Bob Mueller is totally conflicted, and his 17 Angry Democrats that are doing his dirty work are a disgrace to USA!” he wrote.
The past week has proved difficult for the White House after the start of a fraud trial against Paul Manafort, Trump’s former campaign manager, and the release of a secretly recorded tape by Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen.