Twilight of the Trump: Closing In

There are reports that Mueller will be seeking an interview with Trump soon. There also are reports that Trump’s lawyers are trying to stop that from happening.

President Donald Trump has repeatedly said he would testify under oath about possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 presidential election. But now it looks like Trump’s lawyers are worried about a potential interview with special counsel Robert Mueller — and are seeking ways to avoid it.

NBC News reports that Trump’s attorneys are in initial talks with federal investigators about how a possible interview might take place. Trump’s lawyers have suggested the president could provide written answers to Mueller’s questions instead of sitting down face-to-face with Mueller’s team. They’ve also floated the idea of not having the president take part in the interview at all. The Washington Post also reports that a Trump-Mueller interview could take place within weeks.

But legal experts I spoke to doubt Mueller would settle for anything less than a sit-down with Trump. “I highly doubt that Mueller will accept written questions and answers,” Renato Mariotti, who served as a federal prosecutor from 2007 to 2016, told me in an interview. “Prosecutors are interested in a subject’s responses to detailed lines of questioning without the opportunity to have lawyers carefully craft their client’s answer.”

Heh. In other news, Jonathan Swan at Axios reports that Trump spends most of his days watching television and tweeting.

President Trump is starting his official day much later than he did in the early days of his presidency, often around 11am, and holding far fewer meetings, according to copies of his private schedule shown to Axios. This is largely to meet Trump’s demands for more “Executive Time,” which almost always means TV and Twitter time alone in the residence, officials tell us. …

… Trump’s days in the Oval Office are relatively short – from around 11am to 6pm, then he’s back to the residence. During that time he usually has a meeting or two, but spends a good deal of time making phone calls and watching cable news in the dining room adjoining the Oval. Then he’s back to the residence for more phone calls and more TV.

The 11-to-6 schedule is not exactly jam-packed.

On Tuesday, Trump has his first meeting of the day with Chief of Staff John Kelly at 11am. He then has “Executive Time” for an hour followed by an hour lunch in the private dining room. Then it’s another 1 hour 15 minutes of “Executive Time” followed by a 45 minute meeting with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster. Then another 15 minutes of “Executive Time” before Trump takes his last meeting of the day — a 3:45pm meeting with the head of Presidential Personnel Johnny DeStefano — before ending his official day at 4:15pm.

This is fairly typical, Swan says. So he has an official five-hour workday, during which time he has to sit through three meetings in between lunch and yelling at the TeeVee.

Basically, no one is doing the job of president of the U.S. In his case, that may be just as well. Steve M points out that very often stuff Trump says about his policies and the policies his officials present to Congress and the public bear no resemblance to each other. The officials appear to be working around him.

Ross Douthat believes that White House staff are (barely) keeping the government together. And he asks, “Can the people who surround Donald Trump work around his incapacity successfully enough to keep his unfitness from producing a historic calamity?” I repeat, this is Ross Douthat, people.

I could be wrong, but I’m predicting Trump’s presidency won’t survive the year.