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U.S. President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk on South Lawn of the White House upon their return to Washington, U.S., from Cincinnati, February 5, 2018. REUTERS/Yuri Gripas(reuters_tickers)
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Several of U.S. President Donald Trump's lawyers have advised him not to sit down for an interview with a special counsel investigating possible collusion between Russia and the Trump campaign to influence the 2016 presidential election, the New York Times reported on Monday.
Citing four people briefed on the matter, the newspaper said the lawyers were concerned that given Trump's penchant for making false statements and contradicting himself, he could be charged with lying to investigators.
Trump has said he would be willing to be interviewed under oath by Special Counsel Robert Mueller. "I'm looking forward to it, actually," Trump told reporters last month.
A person familiar with the matter told Reuters that no decision had yet been made on whether Trump would agree to an interview.
Trump denies collusion between his campaign and Moscow, and has dismissed the Russia probes as a witch hunt,
If the president refuses to sit for an interview, Mueller could subpoena the president to testify before a grand jury. A subpoena could trigger a court fight that might ultimately be decided by the Supreme Court.
John Dowd and Jay Sekulow, who lead a team of lawyers advising Trump, want the president to refuse an interview request, the Times said.
The lawyers and some Trump aides believe Mueller might be unwilling to subpoena the president and set off a showdown with the White House that the special counsel could lose in court, the Times reported.
Trump's longtime personal attorney Marc Kasowitz has also cautioned against a free-wheeling interview with Mueller, according to the Times.
Ty Cobb, a lawyer who was hired in July to handle the White House's response to the Russia probe, has argued for cooperating with Mueller, the newspaper reported.
In response to requests for comment from Reuters, Dowd and Cobb sent a statement that said the discussions between the president's personal lawyers and the special counsel's office "regarding how and under what terms information will be exchanged are understandably private."
(Reporting by Eric Beech; Additional reporting by Karen Freifeld; Editing by Peter Cooney)