Special counsel Robert Mueller reportedly told President Trump’s legal team last month that he does not currently consider him to be a criminal target, however he is still investigating the president, according to the Washington Post. While negotiating a possible interview with Trump, Muller is said to have told the president’s lawyers that he is not a criminal target, but a subject of the investigation — as in, when someone is under investigation but there is not yet sufficient evidence to bring criminal charges.
So before anyone hoping for “Mueller time” gets too dismayed, Trump is still very much not yet out of the woods, and anything he does say before Mueller could still potentially be used to incriminate himself. In fact, this is exactly why Trump’s lead attorney John Dowd resigned last month, after the president supposedly ignored his advice against sitting down with special counsel.
Mueller’s description of the president’s status has sparked friction within Trump’s inner circle as his advisers have debated his legal standing. The president and some of his allies seized on the special counsel’s words as an assurance that Trump’s risk of criminal jeopardy is low. Other advisers, however, noted that subjects of investigations can easily become indicted targets — and expressed concern that the special prosecutor was baiting Trump into an interview that could put the president in legal peril.
Additionally, legal experts argue that even if Trump doesn’t change his status from subject to target over the course of interviews, that whatever he says under oath may still leave him open to impeachment proceedings.
“The president’s personal risk is primarily on the impeachment front,” noted Keith Whittington, a professor of politics at Princeton University. “Even if there are not things that lead to indictment, there may be matters that warrant an impeachment investigation and proceedings.”
(Via Washington Post)