This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Lawyers for U.S. President Donald Trump say he has provided the special counsel’s office with written answers to questions about Russia’s alleged interference in the 2016 election and his knowledge of it.
In a statement released on November 20, Rudy Giuliani also reiterated Trump’s position that he had done nothing wrong, and he called for an end to Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s 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. It is time to bring this inquiry to a conclusion,” he said.
Turning over Trump’s written answers was a major step in months of talks between Trump’s lawyers and Mueller’s investigators.
At one point, Mueller had been seeking a face-to-face interview with Trump, but his lawyers had counseled against it, fearing he might commit perjury or give Mueller more evidence of potential criminality.
If Mueller’s team and Trump’s team had not been able to agree on the written testimony, Mueller could have been forced to subpoena Trump, setting up a major political battle that could have ended up before the U.S. Supreme Court.
A statement released by another of Trump’s lawyers, Jay Sekulow, said the legal team would not release copies of the questions and answers or discuss correspondence with the special counsel’s office.
In May 2017, Mueller took over an existing FBI probe into Trump associates’ interactions with Russian officials during the 2016 election campaign. Mueller replaced FBI Director James Comey, who was fired by Trump that same month.
Since that time, seven people have pleaded guilty or been convicted as a result, including Trump’s former campaign chairman and his former national security adviser. Also, 26 more individuals have been indicted, along with three Russian companies.
In an interview with Fox News on November 18, Trump again denied wrongdoing, and said he was unlikely to answer questions about obstruction.
“I think we’ve wasted enough time on this witch hunt and the answer is probably, we’re finished,” he said.
Trump joins a list of recent presidents to be questioned as part of a criminal investigation, including George W. Bush and Bill Clinton.
U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that Russia interfered in the election to undermine Trump’s Democratic rival, Hillary Clinton, as well as undermine Americans’ faith in the U.S. electoral system.