As special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election approaches its second year, many have wondered: Why hasn't Mueller called Ivanka Trump in for questioning? After all, he's interviewed countless associates of the president, and reportedly wants to have a sit down with Donald Trump himself. Why has the president's daughter, who was intimately involved with the Trump campaign and is now one of the president's top advisors, seemingly avoided Mueller's scrutiny?
Mueller obviously isn't saying, and his team has been remarkably leak-proof throughout the investigation, so it's not entirely clear. Some observers believe, however, that Mueller is saving Ivanka — and the rest of the president's family — for last as a precautionary measure.
“Mueller would know that trying to interview Ivanka Trump would be like lighting a match to the highly combustible Donald Trump,” Elizabeth de la Vega, a former federal prosecutor worked with Mueller at the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Northern District of California, told Politico. “The team would want to wait to the last possible moment, if at all, before taking that step.”
In other words, Mueller knows he's on thin ice. It's well-known that Donald doesn't approve of the Mueller probe, and the special counsel knows that the president could fire him — directly or indirectly, depending on who you ask — at any moment. It would most likely infuriate the president to see his daughter hauled in for questioning, so Mueller is keeping his powder dry — for now.
This theory is bolstered by the fact that Mueller reportedly hasn't interviewed Donald Trump Jr. yet either. Like Ivanka, Don Jr. also played an instrumental role in Trump's campaign; moreover, he was one of few people present at a crucial meeting in 2016 between Trump campaign associates and Natalia Veselnitskaya, a Russian lawyer and informant for the Kremlin. That meeting, which Don Jr. agreed to after Veselnitskaya promised to provide dirt on Hillary Clinton, has reportedly been a focus of Mueller's investigation — and yet the special counsel doesn't appear to have called in Don Jr. for questioning.
None of this means, however, that Mueller is steering clear of the Trump family indefinitely. Rather, it could simply be that he's saving the family for last.
“There are two possible explanations,” said Matthew Miller, a former spokesman for the Justice Department, told Politico. “It may be [Mueller has] found that every time Ivanka was in the room, there were other people there that he has interviewed. Or they’re saving the family for the very end.”
Another possibility is that Mueller has his sites on Ivanka's husband and top presidential advisor, Jared Kushner. If Kushner, who was also at the Trump Tower meeting and reportedly attempted to set up a secret backchannel with Russia during the transition, is a target of the investigation, Ivanka could be protected by spousal privilege from having to answer any questions about her husband, according to Politico. Bustle has reached out to the White House for comment on the reports that Kushner tried to set up a Russian backchannel, but has not received a response.
Lastly, it's possible that Ivanka herself is a target of the investigation, which would explain why Mueller hasn't called her in as a witness. There's no evidence that this is the case, but because not very much is known about the focus of Mueller's investigation, the possibility can't be ruled out.
Though Mueller has interviewed several of Trump's closest associates over the course of his probe, Ivanka has so far avoided any questioning by the special counsel. But the investigation isn't over yet.