US President Donald Trump has submitted his written answers to the special counsel over alleged Russian meddling during the 2016 presidential campaign. Mr Trump’s lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, said some of the questions posed by special counsel Robert Mueller had gone “beyond the scope of a legitimate inquiry”. Last week Mr Trump said he had answered the questions “very easily”. The US president strongly denies any collusion with Russia, calling Mr Mueller’s investigation “a witch hunt”. On Tuesday, Mr Giuliani confirmed that Mr Trump’s answers had been handed over to investigators, adding that the president had provided “unprecedented co-operation” and that it was time to “bring this inquiry to a conclusion”. In an interview published with Axios on Wednesday, Mr Giuliani revealed the questions were not regarding obstruction of justice something observers have suggested Mr Trump could be accused of with his interactions with the former FBI director James Comey. Mr Giuliani expressed confidence about his client’s legal position, and also said he did not think there was any way Mr Mueller could compel testimony from the president under subpoena, because of Mr Trump’s “executive privilege”.
“I don’t think they have any evidence of collusion of any kind. I think their obstruction case, as a legal matter, doesn’t exist,” the lawyer said. Separately, a report in the New York Times says that Mr Trump earlier this year requested that prosecutions be opened against his 2016 presidential opponent Hillary Clinton and Mr Comey. The report, which quotes unnamed sources, states that Mr Trump’s request was rebuffed by then White House Counsel Donald McGahn, who advised him to hold off in order to avoid opening himself up to accusations of abuse of power. Mr McGahn went on to warn Mr Trump, the report adds, that asking authorities to investigate his rivals could leave him facing possible impeachment.In 2016, Mr Trump accused Mrs Clinton of putting the US “in danger” over her use of a private email while secretary of state. He has also accused Mr Comey of lying under oath before Congress. In 2016, US intelligence agencies concluded that Russia had used a state-authorised campaign of cyber attacks and fake news stories planted on social media in an attempt to turn the election against Democratic candidate Mrs Clinton.
A team of investigators led by Mr Mueller is looking into whether anyone from Mr Trump’s campaign colluded in the effort. It has been established that senior members of Mr Trump’s team met Russian officials, and that several of these meetings were not initially disclosed. The president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, met a Russian lawyer during the campaign who was said to have “dirt” on Mrs Clinton, and former adviser George Papadopoulos has admitted lying to the FBI about meetings with alleged go-betweens for Russia. Four people connected with Mr Trump’s campaign and presidency – campaign chairman Paul Manafort, advisers Rick Gates and George Papadopoulos, as well as former national security adviser Michael Flynn have been charged. However, the US president denies any wrongdoing and no solid evidence has emerged to implicate him.