By Eli Watkins, CNN
President Donald Trump’s legal team demanded that before the President agrees to an interview, the special counsel’s team must prove it has evidence of Trump committing a crime and that it needs testimony from the President to conclude its probe, The New York Times reported Friday.
According to the Times, Trump’s legal team set its new conditions on Friday with the special counsel team led by former FBI Director Robert Mueller. The demands mark further reason to believe the President will not submit voluntarily to an interview with the special counsel.
The Times account painted a picture of Trump’s legal team as increasingly willing to combat the Mueller investigation while seeking to influence public opinion.
Rudy Giuliani told the Times that Mueller probably would not agree to these conditions. He conceded it was still possible the President would agree to an interview and continued to question the objectivity of the investigators.
“If they can come to us and show us the basis and that it’s legitimate and that they have uncovered something, we can go from there and assess their objectivity,” Giuliani said.
The same report said Trump’s lawyers had contested a request from the special counsel team to interview White House chief of staff John Kelly, with White House lawyer Emmet Flood seeking to learn what investigators plan to ask and to narrow the topics of an interview.
The new conditions outlined in the Times report came as yet another set of demands around a potential sit-down between the President and Mueller’s team. Trump said in January that he wanted to speak with Mueller and would do so under oath, although his attorney at the time, John Dowd, said he would decide if the President were to agree to an interview.
As deliberations continued through the spring over testimony from Trump, CNN reported that the President’s legal team was told he was not a target of the Mueller investigation, and in April, CNN reported that preparations had begun for a potential interview.
But by late April, Trump tapped Giuliani to join his legal team, and the former New York mayor has offered varying statements about the terms for an interview with the President, from narrowing the subjects in discussion to demanding information on a confidential FBI source.