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Giuliani says Trump will agree to written questions on Russia investigation

Giuliani on Trump-Mueller interview

President Trump's legal team will agree to written questions about Russia after it reviews them, Mr. Trump's lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, told CBS News Washington correspondent Paula Reid. The team is not willing to commit to anything beyond that at the moment. 

Giuliani also denied a report from The Associated Press that quoted him on the question of whether the president would answer questions about whether Mr. Trump had tried to block the probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election. The AP said that Giuliani, in an interview, had told the wire service that it was a "no-go," and "there will be no questions at all on obstruction."

But Giuliani told Reid that there is "no commitment" on whether Mr. Trump would answer questions about obstruction. "Let's see how the first round goes," Giuliani said. 

He also said that after the special counsel finishes that first round of questions, if Robert Mueller can then convince the Trump administration additional questions are needed, then they "might" entertain that.

"I don't want to mislead and think we're agreeing to that," Guiliani said.

CBS News reported earlier this week that the Mueller team, in a letter sent Friday, agreed to accept written answers from Mr. Trump on questions related to the Russia investigation -- and that Mueller and his team have reserved the right to seek answers to questions related to obstruction of justice in a deposition.

It's unclear whether the president has endorsed this plan, as Mr. Trump has said publicly he would like to answer questions under oath.

Negotiations about the scope and format of an interview are still ongoing. If the legal team holds its stance, it could force Mueller to try to subpoena the president, likely triggering a standoff that would lead to the Supreme Court.

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Mueller's office has previously sought to interview the president about the obstruction issue, including his firing last year of former FBI Director James Comey and his public attacks on Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Mr. Trump's legal team has argued that the president has the power to hire and fire appointees and the special counsel does not have the authority to ask him to explain those decisions. Giuliani said Thursday the team was steadfast in that position.

In the latest letter to the legal team, Mueller's office didn't address obstruction questions, indicating investigators would later assess what additional information it needs from the president after receiving a response about the written submissions, according to a person familiar with the document.

The person familiar with the letter spoke on condition of anonymity because the person was not authorized to publicly discuss the negotiations.

Though the president has publicly said he was eager to face questions from Mueller, his lawyers have been far more reluctant to make him available for an interview and have questioned whether Mueller has the right to ask him about actions that he is authorized, under the Constitution, to take as president.

The Supreme Court has never definitively ruled on the question of whether a president can be forced to testify, though the justices did rule in 1974 that Richard Nixon had to produce recordings and documents that had been subpoenaed.

In addition to questions about Comey and Sessions, Mueller has expressed interest in Mr. Trump's role in drafting a statement to The New York Times about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by his son, Donald Trump Jr., and a Russian lawyer.

Trump Jr. took the meeting, emails show, after it was described as part of a Russian government effort to help his father's campaign by providing derogatory information about Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Mr. Trump has said he knew nothing about the meeting before it happened.

Mr. Trump and Giuliani have led an onslaught of attacks on Mueller's credibility, claiming that the special counsel was biased and that the entire probe was a "witch hunt." Giuliani has also demanded that the probe suspend its activities with the midterm elections approaching, but the former mayor said Thursday he was not certain of Mueller's intentions.

Paula Reid contributed to this report.

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