There’s a lesson that attorneys are taught early in law school: You never ask a question on cross-examination that you don’t already know the answer to.
That’s especially true when you’re a prosecutor with the skill and seasoning of Special Counsel Robert Mueller, and it’s a safe bet that the list of questions revealed by the New York Times Monday evening that Mueller would like to ask Donald Trump did not come from the Mueller team.
Here’s what those questions do tell us: Robert Mueller knows everything said and done by members of the 2016 Trump team (including Trump himself) to curry favor with Russia and assure they won the election.
Looking at those questions closely, it’s also clear that Mueller is already several steps ahead of the president’s legal team and moving into new directions they hadn’t anticipated. Here’s one that should be of special concern to Trump:
“What knowledge did you have of any outreach by your campaign, including by Paul Manafort, to Russia about potential assistance to the campaign?”
The key word there is “outreach.” Sure, we know that Manafort had numerous ties to Russia, but now it appears the Mueller team is looking at much deeper issues of what feelers were sent out by Trump and his associates to get the Russians involved in turning the election in his favor.
Mueller even taunts Trump with this query:
“What consideration and discussions did you have regarding terminating the Special Counsel in June 2017?”
That’s Mueller’s way of sending a very important message to Trump: I know the entire story from beginning to end and you can’t bullshit me.
Trump will never voluntarily respond to the 40+ questions because his attorneys won’t allow him to sit down and answer them. That leaves Mueller with two options: Skip interviewing Trump or subpoena him to appear before a grand jury and answer them. It’s difficult to say which route the special counsel will take, but the grand jury option seems more likely with each passing day.
Whether Trump ever responds to the questions or not, one thing is now crystal clear: Robert Mueller has all the evidence he needs to indict and/or recommend impeachment of the president. The questions are a road map for us to follow as we watch the last days of the Trump administration.
Now the only question that remains is this one: Will Trump attempt to hold out, or will he resign in disgrace?