UPDATE: A former assistant to special counsel Robert Mueller is alleging that a recent leak of questions posed to President Donald Trump were leaked by the commander and chief himself.
Michael Zeldin, who once worked under Mueller in the early 1990s, made the allegations on CNN on Tuesday. Zeldin is a legal analyst for the network.
He alleges that the improper writing style and grammatical mistakes present in the questions that were obtained by The New York Times earlier this week suggest that they weren’t handed to the news organization directly from the investigation itself (otherwise, the questions would have been written in full, not in shorthand).
Rather, it’s more likely, in Zeldin’s estimation, that the notes came from within the White House, and possibly on orders from Trump himself.
“[L]awyers wouldn’t write questions this way, in my estimation,” Zeldin said. “Some of the grammar is not even proper.”
Zeldin isn’t the only person pondering whether Team Trump leaked the notes themselves. Former counsel to President Richard Nixon John Dean has also considered the White House possibly leaking them out — and questions whether there may be legal ramifications for doing so.
“The very fact that the questions are out there, my first reaction, suggesting it could be an act of obstruction to just have released these questions,” Dean said, positing that doing so is an attempt to “disrupt the flow of information” getting to the special counsel.
If true, this would mean that Trump’s tweets on Tuesday morning lambasting the leaking of the questions are nothing more than a facade.
Who can blame Dean, Zeldin, or others for questioning whether the White House itself is the source of the leaks? Trump has in the past used devious means — including posing as his own spokesperson — to fool the media. He also lies constantly to the American people, and it’s not much of a stretch to suppose he’s lying now.
Mueller ought to use every legal effort available to him (without trampling on the free press while doing so) to discover where the leaks came from and determine whether Trump is still trying to impede the investigation.
Special counsel Robert Mueller, who is investigating alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, reportedly has a list of nearly 50 questions that he wants to ask President Donald Trump.
The more than four dozen questions are likely to aid him in the report he is compiling on Trump’s actions in the White House and possible obstruction of justice.
Mueller is also reportedly hoping to gauge a better idea of Trump’s relationship with his family and close aides and the motivation behind his aggressive tweets.
The majority of the questions touch on obstruction of justice, while the rest relate to Trump’s conduct in the White House.
The 10-page questions range from topics such as Trump’s businesses, his son-in-law, Jared Kushner’s meeting with Russians, former FBI Director James Comey’s firing to the Trump Tower meeting between campaign officials and Russians, and Trump’s 2013 trip to Moscow, among many others.
The questions also reference Trump’s contact with former campaign manager Paul Manafort and the Trump campaign’s coordination with Russia.
“What efforts were made to reach out to Mr. Flynn about seeking immunity or possible pardon?” read one question.
Another one stated, “What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?”
Mueller also wants to ask Trump whether he spoke to his election campaign team about possible meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin or if he discussed American sanctions against Russia.
The list of questions are also expected to give Mueller a better idea of whether Trump thinks law enforcement officials are independent investigators of if he expects them to be his loyalists.
A set of questions also touch on Trump’s relationship with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Trump’s views on his recusal from the Russia probe. Mueller has also planned to ask the president about firing the special counsel himself.
“What consideration and discussions did you have regarding terminating the special counsel in June of 2017?” stated a question.
Another one read, “What did you think and do in reaction to Jan. 25, 2018, story about the termination of the special counsel and Don McGahn backing you off the termination?”
Mueller supplied the list of questions to Trump’s legal team, however, it remains unclear when the interview will take place or whether the president would agree to be interviewed by the special counsel or not.
In March 2018, Mueller reportedly met with Trump’s lawyers and requested them to arrange an interview with the president. During the meeting, he also described Trump as a subject of his investigation in the probe.
Trump has said he is “looking forward” to speak to Mueller regarding the ongoing Russia investigation and said he would do so under oath because he had nothing to worry about since there was “no collusion.”
However, his legal team thinks otherwise.
His lawyers are reportedly worried he won’t be able to keep his facts straight, given his well-documented habit of lying and exaggerating things to an extreme, which could very well lead to perjury — the last thing the administration needs right now.
At least four sources familiar with the matter revealed Trump’s chief defense lawyer, John Dowd, was among those advising the president against sitting down with the special counsel. However, he resigned in March 2018 over disagreements with Trump.
However, Trump’s new lawyer, Rudolph W. Giuliani, held a meeting with Mueller in order to be sure the special counsel and his team would be “truly objective” during the meeting.