Can Trump Defy a Mueller Subpoena? Buchanan and Giuliani Suggest Just That
The Wall Street Journal reports Giuliani Says Trump Doesn’t Have to Comply With Mueller Subpoena, Could Invoke Fifth Amendment.
“We don’t have to” comply with a possible subpoena for Mr. Trump, Mr. Giuliani said during an appearance Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “I’m gonna walk him into a prosecution for perjury, like Martha Stewart did?” Mr. Giuliani also left open the possibility the president could invoke his Fifth Amendment right to refuse to testify if forced to appear before a grand jury.
Agreeing to a voluntary interview would allow Mr. Trump’s lawyers to set conditions, including the length of the interview, the topics raised and whether Mr. Trump could be accompanied by counsel.
“When you volunteer at least maybe you can constrain the questions. When you’re subpoenaed, a subpoena is broad. Your lawyer isn’t present. This is a tough decision for the president’s team to make,” Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.
The high court has weighed in on cases involving presidents before. At the height of the Watergate scandal, the Supreme Court ordered Richard Nixon to turn over tapes and other evidence, but that case didn’t deal with testimony. Years later, the high court ruled Bill Clinton didn’t have immunity from civil suits, paving the way for his eventual deposition in a sexual-harassment case—but that case didn’t deal with questions of testimony in criminal investigations.
Memo to Trump: Defy Mueller
In a Memo to Trump, Pat Buchanan says Defy Mueller.
If Donald Trump does not wish to collaborate in the destruction of his presidency, he will refuse to be questioned by the FBI, or by a grand jury, or by Special Counsel Robert Mueller and his malevolent minions.
Should Mueller subpoena him, as he has threatened to do, Trump should ignore the subpoena, and frame it for viewing in Trump Tower. If Mueller goes to the Supreme Court and wins an order for Trump to comply and testify to a grand jury, Trump should defy the court.
The only institution that is empowered to prosecute a president is Congress. If charges against Trump are to be brought, this is the arena, this is the forum, where the battle should be fought and the fate and future of the Trump presidency decided.
The goal of Mueller’s prosecutors is to take down Trump on the cheap. If they can get him behind closed doors and make him respond in detail to questions — to which they already know the answers — any misstep by Trump could be converted into a perjury charge.
Trump has to score 100 on a test to which Mueller’s team has all the answers in advance while Trump must rely upon memory. Why take this risk?
Wrong Answer From NBC
This NBC headline comes up with the wrong answer: Trump probably could not refuse Mueller subpoena to answer questions.
Why can't he?
There may or may not be consequences, but no one can ever force anyone to talk if they refuse to talk.
Why Give a Reason?
Giuliani says plead the Fifth. Buchanan's approach seems more logical. Just refuse. Why give a reason other than Mueller has no authority?
Let the Supreme Court hear the case.
The primary risk of such an approach is not legal. Rather, the primary risk is economic. The secondary risk pertains to the battle of public opinion and possible impact on the midterm elections.
A legal battle between Trump and the Supreme court would not change the downtrend (assuming one is in place), but it could speed things up. The fact of the matter is the market is insanely overvalued, and due to plunge anway. But Trump could get the blame.
Then again, Trump could see a benefit to such an outcome.
If the economy or stock market declined, Trump would have a nice scapegoat. He could and would blame the "Witch Hunt".
Trump's Best Option
Plead the Fifth? Why Bother?
All things considered, Trump's best option would be to defy Mueller with a "Go to Hell" speech along the lines that Pat Buchanan suggested.
The Supreme court may side with Trump and Trump would get a scapegoat.
Mike "Mish" Shedlock