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What Mueller’s Questions for Trump Tell Us About the Ongoing Investigation

May 1, 2018, 10:26 AM UTC

Robert Mueller, the special counsel responsible for investigating Russian election interference, is still seeking to interview President Trump directly.

As part of his ongoing efforts to convince Trump’s legal team to permit the interview, Mueller recently provided them with a list of questions he would ask the president.

What’s on the list

That list, numbering 48 questions, was obtained and printed by The New York Times. The questions cover a wide range of subjects, within four broad categories:

  • Questions related to Michael Flynn, the former national security advisor;
  • Questions related to James Comey, the former FBI director;
  • Questions related to Jeff Sessions, the attorney general; and
  • Questions related to campaign coordination with Russia.

The questions are largely open-ended, in what the Times calls an “attempt to penetrate the president’s thinking.” Many of the questions relate to possible obstruction of justice and include questions about attempts to fire Mueller, possible pardon offers for Flynn, and more broadly, Trump’s perspective on the role of law enforcement officials.

A surprising question

While many of the questions relate to issues that Mueller is publicly known to be investigating, at least one of the published questions points to a new area of inquiry. Mueller reportedly wants to ask Trump, “What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?”

Mueller has brought several charges against Trump’s former campaign manager, but none of them relate to Russian election interference thus far and there have been no reports to date about Manafort reaching out to Russia. The question, therefore, might suggest that there “are still collusion threads that are not yet public,” according to Benjamin Wittes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

Rudy Giuliani is involved

Rudy Giuliani, who joined Trump’s legal team just over a week ago, reportedly met with Mueller last week to determine whether he and his team would be “truly objective” in a potential interview. It is unclear whether he will allow the interview to go ahead, or what Mueller hopes to achieve by questioning the president directly.