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Michael Wolff defends new book's claim that Mueller discussed indicting Trump

Michael Wolff defends new book's claim that Mueller discussed indicting Trump
Author Michael Wolff, seen here at the Newseum in Washington, D.C., on April 12, 2017, defends his new book's claim that the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III discussed indicting President Trump. (Carolyn Kaster / AP)

Author Michael Wolff is defending a section in his new book, “Siege: Under Fire,” in which he claims that the office of special counsel Robert S. Mueller III discussed the possibility of indicting President Trump.

In the book, Wolff says that he obtained a document that he describes as a “draft indictment,” which details legal arguments that Mueller’s team could make if Trump were indicted and the president challenged the special counsel’s authority to do so.

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A spokesman for Mueller denied Wolff’s claim, however, telling the Guardian, “The documents that you’ve described do not exist.”

In an interview aired Monday, Wolff told NPR host Steve Inskeep that while the document wasn’t technically a draft of an indictment, it did discuss the possibility of the president being charged with federal crimes.

“It assumes that the president has been indicted,” Wolff said. “It assumes that the president has gone into court and made a motion to dismiss the indictment on the grounds that a president cannot be indicted. And this is the response to that motion.”

Wolff said the first part of the document details a hypothetical indictment of the president, and the second part is “an incredibly powerful argument" that a sitting president can, in fact, be indicted for a crime. Mueller has previously stated that he believes indicting a sitting president would be unconstitutional.

Wolff has declined to identify the source from whom he obtained the document, but he told the New York Times, “I would only say my source is impeccable, and I have no doubt about the authenticity and the significance of the documents.”

He responded similarly to questions from NPR’s Inskeep, saying that each claim he makes in his new book is one “that I concluded is accurate and true.”

“I’m not beginning at ground zero here,” Wolff said. “I’ve written one book that has been, I think, largely confirmed by all subsequent accounts. So I’m pretty familiar with, if not extremely familiar with, everybody I’m talking to here. And then I like to hear it a couple of times, and in the situation of people I trust of hearing things more than once, and then it gets into the book."

“Siege,” which was published on Tuesday, is one of the most anticipated books of the summer, largely due to the runaway success of Wolff’s previous book, “Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House.” That book was a surprise bestseller for publisher Henry Holt and Co., which had to rush to print more copies after the book was released in January 2018.

It remains to be seen whether “Siege” will meet with the same success as its predecessor. Variety reports that some booksellers are skeptical that “Siege” will sell as well as “Fire and Fury,” quoting Leigh Altshuler of Strand Book Store in New York as saying there is “significantly less demand” for Wolff’s new book.

As of Tuesday morning, “Siege” was the No. 7 bestselling book on Amazon, trailing books by Dr. Seuss and Howard Stern, as well as Scribner’s print version of the Mueller report. The book was ranked No. 22 at Barnes & Noble’s website, coming in behind books by Michelle Obama, George R.R. Martin and former Lakers and Clippers forward Lamar Odom.

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