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How Trump's former lawyer evolved on dealing with Mueller

(CNN) President Donald Trump's former lawyer in the Russia investigation says while he initially urged the President to cooperate with special counsel Robert Mueller, he eventually came to believe he had not been dealt with the way he had expected given the cooperation his side had given Mueller.

"He wasn't keeping his side of the bargain," John Dowd told CNN on Saturday.

Dowd defended his attempt to have a good relationship with Mueller at the outset because of what he called the importance of a "trust factor" as a way of "trying to get more done."

"They told us the documents they wanted, we said here they are," he said. "It was total, wide open cooperation."

Dowd originally urged the President to cooperate with Mueller's probe and resist attacking him publicly. He and Trump's other attorneys later advised Trump not to sit down for an interview with the special counsel as he and his colleagues started to make the case that you can't treat the President like anyone else because he's the chief executive. Rudy Giuliani, one of Trump's current attorneys, has also said he does not think the President should sit for an interview.

Dowd's resignation from the legal team last March came after disagreements with Trump intensified about whether he should sit for an interview and the President stepped up his attacks on the special counsel.

Mueller's team has told Trump's lawyers there are specific areas they feel they need to question the President as part of their investigation.

Does Trump want to testify? As CNN has previously reported, his enthusiasm dipped after the raid on the home, office and hotel room of his former personal lawyer Michael Cohen. As Dowd points out, "the President has to got to take the position that he wants to testify politically. But the real point here is should he, is it warranted by the facts?"

All in all, Dowd criticized the process. "This should never have happened. We don't treat this process like it's a political game. This is the President."

Given the ramped up attacks by Trump against the Mueller probe and decreasing approval ratings for the special counsel, Dowd said, "Mueller has no political support, and there's no case on the President. He should have just moved on."

As the new legal team presents new demands to the special counsel team in order to agree to an interview, as The New York Times reported Friday, Dowd said, "They (the special counsel) have the ball. ... You have to show there's a crime."

If there is no voluntary interview, and Mueller decides to seek a subpoena against Trump, Dowd predicted it might be blocked.

"If he tries to use that and get a grand jury, what's he going to tell the judge? He already has everything."

Dowd also said the argument he would make is that the special counsel's team said Trump wasn't a target.

"We answered all these questions. Why are we wasting the court's time?" he said. "When it's all said and done, the President is a witness and not a target."

CNN's Kevin Bohn, Jeremy Diamond, Pamela Brown and Eli Watkins contributed to this report.
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