President Trump’s lawyers have long insisted that, despite his public promise to testify to Robert Mueller, their client should not do so because he is a compulsive liar (e.g., the New York Times one month ago: “His lawyers are concerned that the president, who has a history of making false statements and contradicting himself, could be charged with lying to investigators.”). His unstoppable lying is akin to a handicap. Forcing him to speak in circumstances where lying is a crime would be like forcing wheelchair-bound Franklin Roosevelt to dunk a basketball.
Perhaps reconsidering the merits of this defense, Trump’s legal brain trust is floating two new rationales for why he cannot submit to an open interview. “It would be a travesty to waste his (Mr. Trump’s) time and to set a precedent which would cripple a future president,” a Trump lawyer tells The Wall Street Journal.
Everybody surely appreciates Trump’s previously undetectable concern for the long-term well-being of the institution he has been trashing. But the second objection, the one about wasting time, seems fairly easy to respond to. While Trump may be terribly busy with his regimen of document study, he also spends four to eight hours per day watching television. A Mueller interview might be scheduled for one of the president’s eight-hour television days, so even if the interview took as long as four hours, it would still leave him free for a robust level of screen time. Indeed, Mueller could even talk to the president while the TV was on, so if Trump grew bored with either the questioning or the shows, he could toggle his attention from one to the other.
It really seems like the scheduling issue is something Trump could work around, unless somehow he has some other reason to avoid Mueller.