Trump's lawyers will reportedly grant Mueller an interview if he agrees to one of 2 conditions — both of which are unlikely

  • President Donald Trump's lawyers are reportedly considering agreeing to an interview with special counsel Robert Mueller.
  • But only if he meets one of two conditions.
  • Either Mueller must agree that he will wrap up the portions of the Russia probe specific to Trump within a set time period — like 60 days.
  • Or he must agree he will limit the scope of questioning to a narrow set of inquiries. 
  • Legal experts said Mueller is unlikely to agree to either and holds more leverage over Trump than Trump does over him.  

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President Donald Trump's legal team is considering proposing a deal to the special counsel Robert Mueller, which would allow him to interview their client in exchange for agreeing to wrap up the Trump-related thread of the Russia investigation, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday.

Trump's lawyers have been in talks with Mueller's team about a possible interview for the last few months, but they have largely angled to avoid a face-to-face interview between the special counsel and a president who has been known to exaggerate the truth and make misleading claims. 

Now, Trump's lawyers are reportedly more open to allowing Mueller to question Trump, as long as he pledges that the portions of the Russia probe related to Trump will conclude within 60 days, The Journal reported. Another option they've floated is to submit to an interview as long as prosecutors agree to stick to a limited scope of questioning. 

11 PHOTOS
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 is a focus in both the obstruction-of-justice and collusion threads of the Russia inquiry. Specifically, the special counsel is probing whether Trump sought to obstruct justice when he fired FBI director James Comey last May. The White House initially said Comey was fired because of the way he handled the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private server when she was secretary of state. But Trump later told NBC's Lester Holt that "this Russia thing" was a factor in his decision.

Mueller has also sharpened his focus in recent weeks on Russia's hack of the Democratic National Committee and subsequent dissemination of stolen emails, and whether Trump had any prior knowledge of it. The revelation indicated that Trump, who until then was a focus of the obstruction inquiry, had also been roped into the collusion probe. 

Moreover, Mueller is also examining Trump's role in crafting an initially misleading statement his son, Donald Trump Jr., issued in response to reports that he and senior Trump campaign members met with two Russian lobbyists offering dirt on Clinton at the height of the election.

Trump's lawyers said he had no knowledge of the meeting. But both former campaign adviser Sam Nunberg and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon have suggested Trump knew more than he let on. Bannon interviewed with Mueller's team last year, and Nunberg testified before a grand jury on Friday. 

Such a deal is unlikely

Legal experts agreed it's unlikely Mueller will agree to either of the conditions Trump's lawyers are said to be considering.

"He may agree to tell the Trump team what will be the areas of questioning, but that's about it," said Alex Whiting, a professor at Harvard Law School and a former federal prosecutor. "The premise of this approach by Trump's lawyers seems to be that they have bargaining leverage because Mueller wants Trump's testimony. But it's more likely the other way around, and Mueller knows it."

Moreover, experts said Trump's lawyers likely have few options when it comes to avoiding or narrowing the scope of an interview, particularly in the obstruction inquiry, because prosecutors need to establish whether he had "corrupt intent" when he fired Comey. 

30 PHOTOS
James Comey through the years
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James Comey through the years
FBI Director James Comey waits before testifying at a House Intelligence Committee hearing into alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. election, on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., March 20, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
UNITED STATES - JUNE 14: Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey speaks at a conference at the Bloomberg News Bureau in Washington DC June 14, 2004. (Photo by Ken Cedeno/Bloomberg via Getty Images)
U.S. President Barack Obama announces James Comey (L), a Republican who served in the Bush Justice Department, as his choice to replace Robert Mueller as the next FBI director, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, June 21, 2013. REUTERS/Jason Reed (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS CRIME LAW)
WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES: US Deputy Attorney General James Comey (L) and FBI Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Gary Bald take questions 05 August, 2004, at the Justice Department in Washington, DC, after announcing that two men from Albany, New York, were arrested charging each with concealing material support for terrorism and participating in a money laundering conspiracy. Mosque Imam Yassin Aref, 34, and mosque founder Mohammed Hoosain, 49, were arrested following a raid on an Albany mosque late 04 August. Officials said the two men had agreed to launder money to help a presumed terrorist, actually an undercover FBI agent, buy a shoulder-fired missile. AFP PHOTO / TIM SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: James Comey (L) FBI Director nominee walks with outgoing FBI Director Robert Mueller (R) to a ceremony annoucing Comey's nomination in the Rose Garden at the White House June 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. Comey, a former Justice Department official under President George W. Bush, would replace Mueller. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
James Comey, U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee as director of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), arrives to a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Comey, the nominee to be the next FBI director, said interrogation techniques such as waterboarding used during his time in President George W. Bush's administration constitute torture and are illegal. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
FBI Director James Comey, right, talks to Spain's Interior Minister Jorge Fernandez Diaz, left, during a meeting in Madrid, Spain, Monday, Dec. 9, 2013. Photo: Rodrigo Garcia/NurPhoto (Photo by NurPhoto/Corbis via Getty Images)
FBI Director James B. Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
DENVER, CO - AUGUST 20: Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey speaks during a press conference at the conclusion of a visit to the Denver FBI Field Office on Wednesday, August 20, 2014 in Denver, Colorado. Director Comey's visit to the Denver FBI Field Office is part of his plan to visit all FBI Field Offices in his first year as director. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/The Denver Post via Getty Images)
The shadow of FBI Director James Comey is seen as he addresses the audience during the Overseas Security Advisory Council (OSAC) annual meeting at the State Department in Washington, DC on November 19, 2014. AFP PHOTO/ MLADEN ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
FBI Director James Comey adjusts his tie before testifying to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on ?Russia?s intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
FBI Director James Comey testifies before a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the "Oversight of the State Department" in Washington U.S. July 7, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 13: FBI Director James Comey arrives at the U.S. Capitol for a classified briefing on Russia for all members of the House of Representatives January 13, 2017 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The internal Office of the Inspector General at the Justice Department announced yesterday that it is conducting a review on the handling of FBI and DOJ's investigation into the Hillary Clinton private e-mail server case. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
FBI Director James Comey testifies to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence hearing on ?Russia?s intelligence activities" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., January 10, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 10: FBI Director James Comey and Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (L-R) arrive to testify before the Senate (Select) Intelligence Committee in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill January 10, 2017 in Washington, DC. The intelligence heads testified to the committee about cyber threats to the United States and fielded questions about effects of Russian government hacking on the 2016 presidential election. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JULY 8: Deputy Attorney General James B. Comey (L) announces indictment of the former Enron CEO, Kenneth Lay, while FBI Director Robert Mueller listens July 8, 2004 in Washington DC. Lay was indicted on 11 counts, including securities and wire fraud and false and misleading statements surrounding the collapse of the energy giant. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
James Brien Comey, Jr. (born December 14, 1960) is the seventh and current Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 2013. (Photo by Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JULY 31: Manhattan U.S. Attorney James Comey announces the arrest in Italy of alleged Russian mobster Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov on charges that he engineered the ice-skating vote swap scandal that rocked the Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. Tokhtakhounov allegedly fixed the Russian skaters' victory in figure skating in exchange for throwing the gold medal to two French ice dancers. Amid worldwide outrage, the Canadian figure skaters were eventually awarded a second gold medal. , (Photo by Todd Maisel/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JUNE 21: FBI Director nominee James Comey (L) speaks as U.S. President Barack Obama (R) looks on during a ceremony announcing Comey's nomination in the Rose Garden of the White House June 21, 2013 in Washington, DC. Comey is a former Justice Department official in the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - DECEMBER 18: Manhattan U.S. Attorney James Comey during an interview wirth the Daily News. (Photo by Robert Rosamilio/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - JUNE 08: The Honorable James Comey, Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, is sworn in before delivering testimony during the House Judiciary Committee hearing concerning reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act June 8, 2005 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The Committee has heard from 30 witnesses during its 10 hearings this year, from both supporters and those with concerns over certain aspects of this anti-terrorism law. (Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
James Comey, U.S. President Barack Obama's nominee as director of the director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), laughs during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, July 9, 2013. Comey, the nominee to be the next FBI director, said interrogation techniques such as waterboarding used during his time in President George W. Bush's administration constitute torture and are illegal. Photographer: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images
UNITED STATES - JUNE 26: James Comey, right, President Obama's nominee as the next director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, meets with Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., in the Russell Senate Office Building on Wednesday, June 26, 2013. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 04: FBI Director James Comey testifies during a hearing before the House (Select) Intelligence Committee February 4, 2014 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. The committee held a hearing to examine threats to the U.S. from all around the world. (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
FBI Director James Comey (L) and US Attorney General Eric Holder announce a record 8.9 billion USD fine against the French bank BNP Paribas for violating international sanctions during a press conference at the US Justice Department in Washington on June 30, 2014. AFP PHOTO / Saul LOEB (Photo credit should read SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images)
FBI Director James B. Comey testifies in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Photo by Brooks Kraft LLC/Corbis via Getty Images)
FBI Director James Comey is sworn in prior to testifying before a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on "Oversight of the Federal Bureau of Investigation" on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., May 3, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
Federal Bureau of Investigation Director James Comey speaks at the Intelligence National Security Alliance Leadership Dinner at the Hilton Mark Center in Alexandria, Virginia, U.S., March 29, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
U.S. President Barack Obama (C) sits with FBI Director James Comey in the Oval Office in Washington after making comments to the media about shootings at military facilities in Chattanooga, Tennessee, July 16, 2015. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas
BOSTON, MA - MARCH 08: FBI Director James Comey speaks at a cybersecurity conference at Boston College on March 8, 2017 in Boston, Massachusetts. Comey, delivering the keynote address to the two-day conference, did not address recent claims by President Donald Trump that former President Barack Obama ordered a a wiretap of then-candidate Trump. (Photo by Darren McCollester/Getty Images)
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"The only person who can testify authoritatively to Donald Trump's motives is Donald Trump," said Jens David Ohlin, a vice dean at Cornell Law School and an expert on criminal law. 

If Trump's lawyers continue contesting the special counsel's interview requests, Mueller can subpoena Trump to testify before a grand jury.

"Trump knows that he could face high political costs if he refuses to testify, asserting his Fifth Amendment privilege," Whiting said. "I don't think Mueller will succumb to the Trump lawyer demands."

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