President Trump‘s lawyer Rudy Giuliani asserted Thursday that the president will refuse to sit down with special counsel Robert Mueller for an interview unless he first sees documents pertaining to the FBI’s use of an informant during the 2016 campaign.
Giuliani told The Associated Press that the Justice Department’s offer to hold a briefing for members of Congress about the informant and his contacts with advisers to Trump’s campaign is insufficient.
“That will not change,” Giuliani said of the demand to view the documents, according to the AP. “We are not going to budge.”
“We want to see the documents — this matters far more to my client than to any member of Congress,” he added.
Trump’s legal team has sought to take advantage of a back-and-forth between the Justice Department and members of Congress over access to documents surrounding the FBI informant.
Giuliani had previously said that the White House wanted a briefing on information shared with lawmakers. The lawyer told Bloomberg on Wednesday that Trump’s legal team was now preparing a formal demand to Mueller for documents related to the Russia probe before letting Trump agree to an interview.
Justice Department officials have offered to hold another briefing early next week for the top Republicans and Democrats from the House and Senate as well as the leaders of the intelligence committees in both chambers, known collectively as the Gang of Eight, the AP reported.
Officials held two briefings for key lawmakers last month. The AP reported that the third briefing will include new materials as well as “the documents that were available for review but not inspected by the members at the previous briefing.”
Two Republicans who were briefed last month — Speaker Paul Ryan (Wis.) and House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Trey Gowdy (S.C.) — issued statements since the meetings saying they had found no evidence that the FBI or Justice Department improperly used an informant during the 2016 campaign.
“I am even more convinced that the FBI did exactly what my fellow citizens would want them to do when they got the information they got, and that it has nothing to do with Donald Trump,” Gowdy told Fox News last week.
“Chairman Gowdy’s initial assessment is accurate, but we have more digging to do,” Ryan said during his weekly news conference on Thursday.
Trump’s allies hope the documents pertaining to the informant will help support Trump’s unsubstantiated claims that former President Obama spied on his campaign for the purpose of aiding Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
The president has repeatedly suggested without evidence that the FBI’s use of an informant amounted to a “spy” on his campaign, and that the investigation into his campaign’s alleged ties to Russia is nothing more than a politically motivated scheme started by the Obama administration.
BY JOHN BOWDEN – 06/07/18