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Let’s Just Stop Pretending Trump Will Ever Testify

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Let’s Just Stop Pretending Trump Will Ever Testify

Can’t we please, please put one piece of Fake News to bed?
Spare us the interviews with Rudy Giuliani and the endless debates among cable TV lawyers about the terms and conditions of Donald Trump’s testimony to special counsel Robert Mueller.
There’s never going to be any testimony. It’s all a charade. Come what may, Trump will never appear under oath in the Russia investigation. No defense attorney worth his law license would allow it.
Those tales New York Times reporters pass along about how the president’s confident he can talk his way out of anything? He’s stalling, playing for time. If push comes to shove, Trump will plead the Fifth Amendment, political consequences be damned.
He’ll just keep calling the Mueller probe a partisan witch hunt, invoke the privilege against self-incrimination, and brazen it out.
Short of provoking a constitutional crisis, it’s his only real play.
How many votes would the president lose that he hasn’t lost already? Courtesy of a recent Facebook exchange, here’s what dedicated Trumpists already believe: “I call the NY Times conspiring with the FBI and DOJ, and the Hillary Clinton campaign to fix the 2016 election and to cripple the president with the Russia collusion nonsense the behavior of the ‘enemies of the people.’”
That’s not quite the QAnon conspiracy, but it’s in the ballpark.
But I doubt it will come to that. Mueller can issue all the subpoenas he wants, if he wants. But what for? He’d actually be doing Trump a favor, helping him to stall with tedious Supreme Court theater. Already, the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent is warning us to “Get ready for this nightmare scenario involving Trump, Mueller and [Supreme Court nominee Brett] Kavanaugh.”
Far better for Mueller to let the question of the president’s testimony simmer on the back burner while proceeding with widely-anticipated indictments of Trump campaign officials for “conspiracy to defraud the United States” along with Russian military hackers. Maybe the president could be persuaded to testify in defense of his son Donald, Jr., although I doubt it.
The president basically convicted himself as an accessory after the fact on Twitter last weekend anyway.  He condemned as “Fake News” a report that he was “concerned about the meeting my wonderful son, Donald, had in Trump Tower.  This was a meeting to get information on an opponent, totally legal and done all the time in politics—and it went nowhere. I did not know about it!”
            In short, virtually everything Trump has previously stated about the ill-fated June 2016 meeting between Donald, Jr., Jared Kushner, Paul Manafort and a passel of Kremlin-connected Russians was a lie. Supposedly it was about Russian adoptions, remember? That was the gist of the scripted denial Trump dictated aboard Air Force One and falsely attributed to his son.
A few weeks later, the New York Times obtained a series of emails between Donald Jr. and Rob Goldstone, the British-born publicist who helped arrange the Trump Tower get-together by promising “dirt” on Hillary Clinton as “part of Russia and its government’s support for Mr. Trump.”
“If it’s what you say,” Donald Jr. replied “I love it.”
No mention of Russian orphans.
Meanwhile, two days before the ill-fated meeting that Trump insists he knew nothing about, he’d promised a “major speech” on June 13 regarding “all of the things that have taken place with the Clintons.” Evidently because the Russian “dirt” was of low quality, that speech was never delivered.
Nevertheless, it’s clear that an offer had been made and a price agreed upon. The Russians wanted repeal of the Magnitsky Act, a law making it hard for Kremlin oligarchs to launder money.
U.S. election law makes it a crime to receive from foreigners “a contribution or donation of money or other thing of value…in connection with a Federal, State, or local election.” “Dirt,” aka opposition research, can be an expensive commodity. (Also contrary to Trump, hiring an agent like Christopher Steele to do opposition research is perfectly legal. It’s a question of who’s paying: the candidate or a hostile foreign government.)
Former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum puts it succinctly as possible:
“They knew they would be meeting with representatives of the Russian State.
“They knew they were being offered Russian state intelligence.
“They intended to use Russian intelligence offered by Russian agents against American opponents.
“They did not alert the FBI.”
Even former Trump sidekick Steve Bannon, scourge of the “Deep State,” thought meeting Russian agents inside Trump Tower was at best deeply stupid. “Even if you thought that this was not treasonous, or unpatriotic, or bad s***,” he said, “and I happen to think it’s all of that, you should have called the FBI immediately.” 
And if it weren’t all those things, the White House wouldn’t have had to lie about it for so long.
So no, Trump will never testify.
Gene Lyons

Gene Lyons is a political columnist and author. Lyons writes a column for the Arkansas Times that is nationally syndicated by United Media. He was previously a general editor at Newsweek as wells an associate editor at Texas Monthly where he won a National Magazine Award in 1980. He contributes to Salon.com and has written for such magazines as Harper's, The New York Times Magazine, The New York Review of Books, Entertainment Weekly, Washington Monthly, The Nation, Esquire, and Slate.

A graduate of Rutgers University with a Ph.D. in English from the University of Virginia, Lyons taught at the Universities of Massachusetts, Arkansas and Texas before becoming a full-time writer in 1976. A native of New Jersey, Lyons has lived in Arkansas with his wife Diane since 1972. The Lyons live on a cattle farm near Houston, Ark., with a half-dozen dogs, several cats, three horses, and a growing herd of Fleckvieh Simmental cows.
Lyons has written several books including The Higher Illiteracy (University of Arkansas, 1988), Widow's Web (Simon & Schuster, 1993), Fools for Scandal (Franklin Square, 1996) as well as The Hunting Of The President: The 10 Year Campaign to Destroy Bill and Hillary Clinton, which he co-authored with National Memo Editor-in-Chief Joe Conason.

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