This is what it's like to interrogate the president

Bill Clinton 1998.
(Image credit: WILLIAM PHILPOTT/AFP/Getty Images)

President Trump and Special Counsel Robert Mueller have spent months dancing around the possibility of Trump testifying before the investigative team, a move that would be an enormous step in the inquiry concerning campaign aides' possible ties to Russian agents. Of course, it wouldn't be the first time a sitting president has been interrogated by a special counsel. Reflecting on the similarities between today's scandal and former President Bill Clinton's 1998 interrogation, then-deputy independent counsel Jay Apperson observed to The New York Times, "This sounds very familiar, doesn't it?"

Interrogating the president of the United States of America is no small feat. "The president was invited six times to voluntarily appear before the grand jury and six times declined," Apperson recalled. "The delays, of course, caused the investigation to continue while they were publicly attacking us for, what was it, 'six years and $60 million'? So the president largely was responsible for that delay for lots of reasons, including the declination to appear while publicly attesting that he was cooperating fully."

Another deputy independent counsel, Solomon L. Wisenberg, recalled Clinton's lawyer threatening to fight Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr "to the knife" if he asked "the sex questions." Apperson remembered being told about the lawyer's comments by Starr: "I don't want to say he was ashen, but he was visibly shaken by this."

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Then came the aftermath — "President Clinton had a frustration that basically if no one else was going to call this for what it was, then he was," then-White House Counselor Douglas B. Sosnik said. "Because he’d rather do that than leave it unsaid, which is what I think President Trump feels now." Read the whole juicy oral history of what it's like to interrogate the president at The New York Times.

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