Trump lawyer de­nies in­ves­ti­ga­tion claims

De­nial seems to con­tra­dict pres­i­dent’s own tweet In­quiry into Rus­sian links to ad­min­is­tra­tion con­tinue

The Guardian - - INTERNATIONAL - Ed­ward Hel­more New York

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.

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