Trump lawyer denies investigation claims
Denial seems to contradict president’s own tweet Inquiry into Russian links to administration continue
A member of Donald Trump’s legal team has denied the president is under investigation for obstruction of justice, in comments that appear to contradict the president himself.
Jay Sekulow, chief counsel of the American Center for Law and Justice, appeared on the major political talk shows yesterday. He told CBS’s Face the Nation: “The fact of the matter is the president has not been and is not under investigation.”
On NBC’s Meet the Press he said: “He’s not afraid of the investigation – there is no investigation. There is not an investigation of the president of the United States, period.”
Sekulow’s comments directly contradicted Trump’s own tweet last week in which he appeared to refer to deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein when he wrote: “I’m being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt!”
Sekulow sought to brush aside the president’s words. Trump, he said, was merely responding to an anonymously sourced Washington Post report that said special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into links between Trump aides and Russia had expanded to look at Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey.
“The president issued that tweet on social media because of the report in the Washington Post from five anonymous sources – none of which, of course, anyone knows about – alleging that the president was under investigation in this purported expanded probe,” he said. “The fact of the matter is the president has not been and is not under investigation. So this was his response, via Twitter, via social media.”
On CNN’s State of the Union, Sekulow sought to account for any confusion over Trump’s apparently precise words by saying the president could not “in a tweet, include all that is there”.
In an echo of remarks by former House speaker Newt Gingrich, Trump’s lawyer claimed the president has the constitutional authority to fire anyone he chooses without triggering obstruction of justice issues.
Sekulow’s comments seemed to establish the position the president will take in any public testimony to the Mueller investigation , which the attorney said the president was still willing to give.
Trump’s candour on social media has, however, regularly capsized official positions, and a senior Republican close to the president voiced concern yesterday that, once again, the president was causing needless problems for himself.
“Trump has a compulsion to counterattack,” Gingrich said on ABC’s This Week. “I don’t think that tweet helped him.”
Trump tweeted yesterday: “The MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt”, and cited an outlying Rasmussen poll that gave him a 50% approval rating. He also claimed to have a higher approval rating than Barack Obama.