President Donald Trump made a mistake offering to testify under oath about his meetings with then-FBI Director James Comey, said Peter Wallison, former White House counsel in the Reagan administration.
Wallison, who is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, made his comments in a column for The Wall Street Journal.
He maintained Comey's recollections about the conversations with Trump offer no convincing evidence of wrongdoing by the president.
"For one thing, the facts are ambiguous," Wallison writes. "Yes, Mr. Trump asked Mr. Comey to abandon the investigation of (Michael) Flynn, but he didn't order it — something that, as president, he had the authority to do."
He added: "Given what we know, there is very little chance Special Counsel Robert Mueller will bring an obstruction charge."
But Wallison remains troubled by Trump's offer to testify.
"Never one to leave well enough alone, Mr. Trump accused Mr. Comey of lying and offered to give his own testimony," he said. "That sets up a conflict that the media will treat as a test of Mr. Trump's honesty.
"Unless there are tapes — which would raise even more questions — this is a challenge the president will lose. His exculpatory recollections under oath, whatever they are, will not be more credible than Mr. Comey's contemporaneous memorandums."
And he said: "If that is Mr. Mueller's finding, the president will have given his enemies the priceless opportunity to claim he lied under oath, an impeachable offense — at least in Republican eyes when President (Bill) Clinton was in the dock."
But, Wallison noted, there is still a way for Trump to avoid testifying, but it all depends on Mueller.
"Mr. Mueller could still say the president's testimony would change nothing and need not be taken, since Mr. Comey's statements and memorandums simply do not make out a case of obstruction. Mr. Mueller would face merciless media and Democratic criticism for cutting this circus short.
"But if he is the man of integrity everyone has averred, he will follow this course for the good of the country."
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