The Interview: A fly on the wall with Trump and Mueller
Who would not want to be in the room when special prosecutor Robert Mueller interviews Donald Trump regarding Russian influence in the 2016 presidential election? But sadly, most of us will not be privy to that conversation, so this article may be as close as our imaginations can bring us to the moment of truth.
“Mr. President, good afternoon. Please have a seat.”
The president looks for the highest seat in the room, finds Mueller in that chair, resignedly sits in a red leather chair opposite the square-jawed prosecutor. The chair matches his tie almost perfectly, so the president feels at ease knowing the chair is special for him.
“I would like to ask you a few questions about the 2016 election and subsequent activities and statements associated with Russian interference and possible conspiracy by Trump campaign officials.”
“But before I do that let’s establish a baseline of fact. Do you understand that the Russian government attempted to interfere in the 2016 election?”
Trump leans forward in his chair. The leather squeaks slightly. A single drop of sweat appears upon his brow. He does not wipe it away.
“Well, if it did happen, and I will say this: ‘I don’t see any reason why it would be (Russia.)’ ‘And I would add to that, Putin is ‘extremely strong in his denial.’” (Trump quotes from July 16, 2018.)
The prosecutor clears his throat, “Mr. President, you are aware that new research has uncovered extensive Russian interference in social media both during and after the 2016 election?”
“Trump hesitates, “Uh, no, Fox has not reported on that.”
Mueller frowns, “You recently said there were riots in California in protest of sanctuary cities. You do know there is no evidence of that, right?”
Trump’s face tightens, his hands grab at the chair arms rightly.
“Lots of people feel that way anyhow,” he says. “I feel that way. There could be riots. Who knows?”
“Mr. President, surely you know that ‘feeling that way’ is not to be confused with truth or facts?”
Trump’s entire face frowns now.
“I am a really smart guy, and if I say it, then it is true,’ he says. “‘I know more than generals.’” (Oct.16,2016)
Mueller smiles, “OK, then, you once said you knew nothing about payments to two women who claimed to have had sex with you. Was that true?”
Trump jerks up in his seat, “I always want to tell the truth. When I can, I tell the truth.” (Trump Nov. 1, 2018.)
Mueller tries again, “When, in March of 2018, you said you knew nothing about payments were you telling the truth?”
“Well even Cohen said I did not reimburse him.”
Mueller nods, “But you did reimburse him according to your attorney, Rudy Giuliani.”
Trumps face reddens, “Well, it was a ‘private matter’.”
Mueller goes on, “So the affairs did happen, you did not want them to effect the election, you had Cohen hush them with money, you reimbursed Cohen, you hid one payment with the National Enquirer, and you directed Cohen to pay the other woman, correct?”
Trump falls silent for a moment. “You can say things in different ways. I like to say maybe it all never even happened, Cohen just did things all on his own maybe, and those conversations either never took place or meant something different than the words used.”
“Mr. President, I just have one question now. You know this investigation has spoken to many people near you, charged and convicted some of them and charges may be pending against others.
Some of these people lied to the investigation and their lies were discovered. Mr. President, did you conspire with Russia in 2016 to win the presidency?”
Trump smiles, “I think I already answered that question.”
Jim Crawford is a retired educator, political enthusiast and award-winning columnist living here
in the Tri-State.