Trump's lawyers want him to refuse Mueller interview request: NY Times

WASHINGTON, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Several of U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyers have advised him not to sit down for an interview with a special counsel investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times reported on Monday.

Citing four people briefed on the matter, the newspaper said the lawyers were concerned that given Trump's penchant for making false statements and contradicting himself, he could be charged with lying to investigators.

Trump has said he would be willing to be interviewed under oath by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. "I'm looking forward to it, actually," Trump told reporters last month.

A person familiar with the matter told Reuters that no decision had yet been made on whether Trump would agree to an interview.

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People reportedly interviewed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe
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People reportedly interviewed in Robert Mueller's Russia probe

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions 

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Former FBI Director James Comey

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Former White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Former White House press secretary Sean Spicer

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

White House Director of Strategic Communications Hope Hicks

(Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Trump advisor Stephen Miller

(REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque)

President Trump's son-in-law and senior advisor Jared Kushner 

(bBRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

Don McGahn, general counsel for the Trump transition team

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Christopher Steele, the former MI6 agent who compiled the reported Trump dossier 

(Photo by Victoria Jones/PA Images via Getty Images)

Sam Clovis, a former member of the Trump campaign

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

CIA Director Mike Pompeo
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Trump denies collusion between his campaign and Moscow, and has dismissed the Russia probes as a witch hunt.

If the president refuses to sit for an interview, Mueller could subpoena the president to testify before a grand jury. A subpoena could trigger a court fight that might ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.

John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, who lead a team of lawyers advising Trump, want the president to refuse an interview request, the Times said.

The lawyers and some Trump aides believe Mueller might be unwilling to subpoena the president and set off a showdown with the White House that the special counsel could lose in court, the Times reported.

Trump's longtime personal attorney Marc Kasowitz has also cautioned against a free-wheeling interview with Mueller, according to the Times.

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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
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Putting the Trump-Russia timeline into perspective
June 7: The 2016 primary season essentially concludes, with both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton as the presumptive party nominees
June 9: Donald Trump Jr. — along with Jared Kushner and former campaign chair Paul Manafort — meets with Kremlin-connected lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya.
June 9: Trump tweets about Clinton's missing 33,000 emails
July 18: Washington Post reports, on the first day of the GOP convention, that the Trump campaign changed the Republican platform to ensure that it didn't call for giving weapons to Ukraine to fight Russian and rebel forces
July 21: GOP convention concludes with Trump giving his speech accepting the Republican nomination
July 22: WikiLeaks releases stolen emails from the Democratic National Committee
July 25: Democratic convention begins
July 27: In final news conference of his 2016 campaign, Trump asks Russia: "If you're listening, I hope you're able to find the 30,000 emails that are missing"
August 4: Obama CIA Director John Brennan confronts his Russian counterpart about Russia's interference. "[I] told him if you go down this road, it's going to have serious consequences, not only for the bilateral relationship, but for our ability to work with Russia on any issue, because it is an assault on our democracy," Brennan said on "Meet the Press" yesterday.
October 4: WikiLeaks' Julian Assange says his organization will publish emails related to the 2016 campaign
October 7: WikiLeaks begins releasing Clinton Campaign Chair John Podesta's emails
October 7: Department of Homeland Security and the Director of National Intelligence release a statement directly saying that Russia is interfering in the 2016 election
October 31: "This WikiLeaks is like a treasure trove," Trump says on the campaign trail
November 4: "Boy, I love reading those WikiLeaks," Trump says from Ohio.
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Ty Cobb, a lawyer who was hired in July to handle the White House's response to the Russia probe, has argued for cooperating with Mueller, the newspaper reported.

In response to requests for comment from Reuters, Dowd and Cobb sent a statement that said the discussions between the president's personal lawyers and the special counsel's office "regarding how and under what terms information will be exchanged are understandably private."

(Reporting by Eric Beech; Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Peter Cooney)

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