President Donald Trump‘s legal team representing him in Special Counsel Robert Mueller‘s investigation has undergone a significant shakeup in recent months, apparently leaving them without one key element: security clearance. Former Trump attorney John Dowd had been the team’s leader and the only one with the necessary clearance needed to discuss certain issues with Mueller’s office. Since Dowd left, however, none of the president’s lawyers currently have clearance, sources told Bloomberg.
Trump’s current lead attorney, Jay Sekulow, is still awaiting security clearance. New team members Rudy Giuliani, Martin Raskin, and Jane Raskin did not confirm whether they are seeking clearance.
Dowd told the publication that Mueller is considering subpoenaing the president if he does not agree to an interview. Defense attorneys are not permitted in grand jury proceedings, so if Trump does intend on having a sit-down interview with Mueller, both sides would have to wait for a Trump attorney to receive clearance. Whether Mueller is willing to wait, however, may be another story.
If Mueller is not willing to wait for clearance that may or may not be granted, he could end up just subpoenaing Trump to appear before a grand jury. Should that happen, his team is reportedly considering the idea of invoking executive privilege to evade certain questions. It has been reported in the past that Trump’s attorneys had drawn inspiration from the Clinton-era decision in the investigation of former Secretary of Agriculture Mike Espy. A judge ruled regarding the 1994 investigation that to pierce executive privilege, an investigation has to show why the information they seek “is important to the ongoing grand jury investigation and why this evidence is not available from another source.”
That’s not to say that Mueller wouldn’t be able to clear this hurdle, but it would make his job more difficult.
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