WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump laid out for the special counsel his defense in the investigation into possible ties between his associates and Russia’s election interference, the president’s lawyers said in a statement Tuesday.
The details of Trump’s responses were not immediately clear, but his lawyers said that now that he had handed over answers to questions from the special counsel, Robert Mueller, the time had come to end the investigation.
“The special counsel has been provided with more than 30 witnesses, 1.4 million pages of material, and now the president’s written responses to questions,” said one of the lawyers, Rudy Giuliani, who issued a statement with another of the president’s personal lawyers, Jay Sekulow. “It is time to bring this inquiry to a conclusion.”
After months of negotiations about a possible presidential interview, Mueller allowed Trump to respond in writing to questions about whether any of his associates conspired with Moscow’s campaign of disruption. Mueller did not rule out trying to compel Trump to sit for an interview after reviewing his written answers.
Without the answers themselves, it is difficult to gauge the significance of Trump’s responses. In at least one iteration early this year, the special counsel’s questions on interference touched on his advisers’ contacts with Russia and appeared aimed at what Trump knew about them.
A spokesman for Mueller did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The president sent the responses as he began a new round of attacks on Mueller and raised questions about whether investigators were laying a perjury trap for him. “I’m sure they’re tricked up,” he said of the questions Friday to reporters at the White House, “because, you know, they like to catch people.”
The president added, “So you have to always be careful when you answer questions with people that probably have bad intentions.”
Trump’s comments amounted to a reversal of his long-stated willingness to sit down with Mueller, as the president believes he is his own best spokesman and can convince investigators that he and his associates had nothing to do with Russia’s interference. “We’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt, and the answer is, probably, we’re finished,” he said Friday.