President Trump’s lawyer on Sunday contradicted his client’s tweeted assertion that he is being investigated in the federal probe into Russia’s interference into the 2016 presidential election.
“The president is not under investigation by the special counsel,” Jay Sekulow, a member of Trump’s outside legal team, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “The president has not been and is not under investigation.”
Sekulow said the tweet was in response to the Washington Post report that special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the FBI’s probe into Russia’s meddling in the election, is now investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice.
Yet the president’s tweet seemed to confirm that he is under investigation.
“I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt,” Trump tweeted.
I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 16, 2017
“That response on social media was in response to the Washington Post piece — it’s that simple,” Sekolow replied. “The president issued that tweet, that social media statement, based on a fake report, a report with no documented sources, in the Washington Post.”
Trump’s lawyer took issue with the Post’s use of five anonymous sources for its report on the expanding FBI probe.
— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) June 18, 2017
Earlier, in the wake of the FBI report, Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein also issued a vaguely worded statement warning Americans to “exercise caution before accepting as true any stories attributed to anonymous ‘officials.’”
Sekulow also suggested that Twitter’s 140-character limit prevented Trump from fully explaining what he meant.
“I think you’re reading more into the tweet than what’s there,” Sekulow told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.
The White House, though, has repeatedly directed reporters to take Trump’s tweets at face value, saying “his tweets speak for themselves.”
Trump’s reference to “the man who told me to fire the FBI Director” was apparently to Rosenstein, who installed Mueller as special counsel after Trump fired FBI Director James Comey.
On the day of Comey’s firing, the White House released memos from Rosenstein and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to Trump recommending the FBI director’s termination — letters that Sekulow held up in his appearance on NBC.
But in testimony to Congress on May 19, Rosenstein said his memo to Trump was “not a statement of reasons to justify” Comey’s “for-cause” firing.
And Trump told NBC’s Lester Holt that he had already made the decision to fire Comey long before he received those memos.
“I was going to fire Comey,” Trump said. “I was going to fire regardless of recommendation.”
Earlier this month, Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, saying he believes his firing was due to the president’s concerns about the Russia probe.
“It’s my judgment that I was fired because of the Russia investigation,” Comey said.
“The obstruction-of-justice investigation of the president began days after Comey was fired,” the Post said.
According to the Associated Press, Trump’s advisers say he is growing “increasingly angry over the investigation, yelling at television sets in the White House carrying coverage and insisting he is the target of a conspiracy to discredit — and potentially end — his presidency.”
On Sunday morning, the president continued to assail the investigation, tweeting that his agenda is “doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt.”
On “Fox News Sunday,” Sekulow said that even if Trump were under investigation, the possible obstruction the newspaper says is being probed is tied to Trump’s firing of Comey — an action Sekulow argued that Department of Justice “told him to take.”
But Sekulow slipped into present tense, leading to a fiery exchange with host Chris Wallace.
Holy crap. This exchange between Chris Wallace and Trump's lawyer is absolutely incredible. pic.twitter.com/Wem33Lc1VK
— David Mack (@davidmackau) June 18, 2017
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