Mixed messages from Trump are one thing, mixed messages from his legal team are another. “There is not an investigation of the president of the United States, period,” claimed Jay Sekulow on one of this morning’s Sunday shows, a bombshell revelation if true given that it squarely contradicts WaPo’s story of a few days ago — not to mention Trump’s own tweets. But Sekulow was firm:
“Let me be clear here,” said Jay Sekulow, a member of the president’s legal team, on NBC’s “Meet The Press.” “The president is not and has not been under investigation for obstruction.”…
“He’s not afraid of the investigation — there is no investigation,” Sekulow added. “There has been no notification from the special counsel’s office that the president is under investigation.”
Trump’s tweet wasn’t an admission that he’s being investigated, Sekulow noted, it was merely a reaction to the WaPo story alleging that. If WaPo and its five sources were wrong about something as serious as Bob Mueller investigating the president for obstruction of justice, what else have they been wrong about?
But wait. Sekulow landed on “Fox News Sunday” opposite Chris Wallace this morning too. That interview went a bit differently.
So here’s the constitutional threshold question, Chris. The president takes action based on numerous events, including recommendations from his attorney general and the deputy attorney general’s office. He takes the action that they also, by the way, recommended. And now he’s being investigated by the Department of Justice because the special counsel under the special counsel relations reports still to the Department of Justice. Not an independent counsel. So he’s being investigated for taking the action that the attorney general and deputy attorney general recommended him to take by the agency who recommended the termination. So that’s the constitutional threshold question here. That’s why, as I said, no investigation —
Wallace leaped at him for that: You just admitted that the special counsel is investigating Trump after claiming that there is no investigation! Watch below (starting at 3:00) for the fireworks that ensued. No, no no, Sekulow clarified, I’m not saying that he’s under investigation; I’m saying that the point of Trump’s tweet was that if WaPo were right that he’s being investigated then the president would be getting punished for doing something, namely, firing James Comey, that his own Justice Department recommended that he do. Uh, okay, says Wallace. So you’re telling us that Bob Mueller absolutely, positively is not investigating the president despite media reports to the contrary?
Well … no, not exactly, says Sekulow:
WALLACE: Well, but you don’t know that he isn’t under investigation now, do you?
SEKULOW: Well, no one’s notified us that he is. So I — I can’t read people’s minds, but I can tell you this, we have not been notified that there’s an investigation to the president of the United States. So that — nothing has changed in that regard since James Comey’s testimony.
WALLACE: Well, you don’t know that he’s not under investigation again, sir. I mean you might —
SEKULOW: You know, I can’t read the mind — you’re right, Chris, I can’t read the minds of the special prosecutor.
“Oh boy,” says Wallace, “this is weird.” How the hell did Sekulow go from “There is not an investigation of the president of the United States, period,” on “Meet the Press” to “I can’t read the minds of the special prosecutor” on “Fox News Sunday” within a few hours? All he seems to be saying, really, is that Trump hasn’t received formal notice that Mueller’s looking at him. But since when is formal notice a prerequisite to a probe? This feels a lot like Sekulow’s trying to spin an anodyne fact, the lack of notice, into a much broader, unsupported claim that Trump isn’t under suspicion to give him political cover.
USA Today, reporting on Sekulow’s interviews this morning, checked with its own sources about who’s right and who’s wrong: “A person familiar with the matter confirmed to USA TODAY that Trump is indeed under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller and his team.” Wallace also asks Sekulow if Trump has expressed any opinion to him about whether he thinks Rod Rosenstein has done anything wrong. Nope, says Sekulow. If you believe the Daily Beast, though, Trump has made his feelings clear to other confidants: “He’s furious at Rosenstein, but the list of his people who enrage him is ever-growing… He has no qualms about throwing [Rosenstein] under a bus.” Rosenstein himself is reportedly “a mix of furious and amazed at Trump’s tweets” attacking him, according to one lawyer who knows him. Will Rosenstein quit before he’s fired or will Trump fire him before he quits? Stay tuned!