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Trump offers advice to Mueller on what he should include in final report

The president wondered in a tweet if the special counsel would write a "preamble" to his report detailing what Trump alleges are conflicts of interest.
Image: Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks to the news media while walking to board Marine One to depart for travel to Mar-a-Lago from the White House in Washington, Nov. 20, 2018.Leah Millis / Reuters file

President Donald Trump had some suggestions on Monday for what special counsel Robert Mueller should include in his final report.

After submitting written answers last week to Mueller's questions centered on Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election and possible collusion between Russian officials and the Trump campaign — which Mueller is tasked with investigating — Trump wondered if the special counsel would write a "preamble" detailing supposed conflicts of interest, something the president has tweeted about repeatedly in the past.

The president also wondered if Mueller would recommend actions against "those 'on the other side.'"

Trump on Monday didn't explain what conflicts of interest he believes Mueller has. But the president tweeted earlier this year claiming that the pair had a "very nasty and contentious business relationship" and that Trump had "turned him down" to replace former FBI Director James Comey, who Trump fired. Plus, Trump said, Comey and Mueller are friends.

According reports in The Washington Post and The New York Times, Trump and allies have alleged that there was a dispute between Mueller and Trump National Golf Club in Sterling, Virginia, over membership fees, which prompted Mueller, the FBI director at the time, to leave the club in 2011. However, a spokesman for Muller told the Post last year that there was no dispute.

Shortly after his appointment in 2017, Department of Justice ethics officials concluded that Mueller was free of any conflicts that would interfere with him overseeing the government's investigation. Earlier this year, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein said he "not aware of any disqualifying conflict of interest" involving Mueller.

Trump's Monday tweet also asks, "Whatever happened to Podesta?" — an apparent reference to Tony Podesta, the former lobbyist under investigation by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York, as NBC News reported earlier this year. That investigation was prompted by a referral from Mueller's office.

Tony Podesta is the brother of John Podesta, the White House chief of staff under former President Bill Clinton who served as campaign chairman for 2016 Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.

Trump — through his legal team — submitted written answers last week to Mueller's questions focused on Russian electoral interference in 2016 and any possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign. After submitting the answers, Trump's attorney Rudy Giuliani said in a statement that it "is time to bring this inquiry to a conclusion."

But the submission followed months of jockeying between both sides over what Trump would provide federal investigators, and the president did not answer any questions about possible obstruction of justice.

Trump's attorneys have said that such questions amount to a "perjury trap."

The president and his attorneys have also shut down the idea of Trump sitting with Mueller's team for an in-person interview.

Mueller could subpoena Trump for answers on obstruction-related questions or to appear for in-person questioning. In August, Trump's lawyers were already preparing a memo to oppose a possible subpoena, a move that would touch off a legal battle that could go all the way to the Supreme Court.