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Fireworks exploded Sunday when Fox News anchor Chris Wallace grilled an attorney for President Donald Trump over whether or not the president is the subject…
Trump lawyer says the president is definitely not under investigation despite Trump’s tweet stating otherwise
Also, he admits that Trump might in fact be under investigation.
Attorney Jay Sekulow is part of President Donald Trump’s legal team, and on Sunday he was given the unenviable task of defending the administration’s contradictory and constantly evolving opinion on the commander-in-chief’s legal standing.
On Meet the Press and CNN’s State of the Union, Sekulow was asked about Donald Trump’s June 16 tweet in which he confirmed he was under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
An incredulous Jake Tapper asked Sekulow to explain how the administration could continue to claim Trump wasn’t the subject of an investigation despite the president’s comments about the matter.
Jake: So Trump said “I’m under investigation” even though he isn’t? Trump lawyer: The president isn’t under investigation. It’s that simple https://t.co/BakMGggjFq
Sekulow’s argument, as best I can follow, is that Trump’s confirmation of the existence of an investigation isn’t confirmation at all, but rather a comment about a Washington Post article that confirmed the president was the subject of an investigation into obstruction of justice. Sekulow also said the Washington Post article is fake news.
“The president said ‘I am being investigated’ in a tweet, and people take his word on that,” said a visibly confused Tapper. “You’re saying that the president, when he said that, was not accurate.”
If Sekulow’s response to Tapper was a stammering mess, his answers to NBC’s Chuck Todd were even less comprehensible.
“If the president is innocent, why is he afraid of the investigation?” Todd asked Sekulow.
“He’s not afraid of the investigation,” responded Sekulow, who quickly caught himself. “There is no investigation. I want to be clear here.”
It gets better. After spending the morning flatly and unequivocally denying that Trump was the subject of any investigation, his third appearance—this time on CBS’s Face the Nation—left open the possibility that in fact, Trump could be under investigation after all.
Sekulow says Trump has not gotten notice that he is under investigation and cannot imagine the president would not be aware if he was.
Host John Dickerson wanted to know how Sekulow could speak with such certainty about the absence of any investigation. “How do you know?” he asked.
“Because we’ve received no notice of investigation,” said Sekulow. “There has been no notification from the special counsel’s office that the president is under investigation.”
Dickerson didn’t drop his line of questioning, though. “Couldn’t you be under investigation and they’re just not letting you know yet?”
“Well, look, I can’t imagine a scenario where the president would not be aware of it,” said Sekulow.
Of course, he’s speaking about a president who signs executive orders without knowing what’s in them, who refuses to read security briefings unless they have pretty pictures in them, who obsesses over cable news, and who spends most weekends at resorts bearing his name. But sure, nothing gets past him.
Trump lawyer says the president is definitely not under investigation despite Trump’s tweet stating… was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
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He wasn’t trying to intimidate investigators. He just lacks “language discipline.”
In response to allegations that President Donald Trump illegally attempted to stymie an investigation into his campaign, the GOP has come up with a novel excuse: Maybe, they say, the president is just too bad with words to avoid incriminating himself.
Representative David Schweikert (R-AZ) offered the latest and clearest example of this rationale on NPR’s Morning Edition on Thursday, as first highlighted by CNN’s KFile.
“I’m at the point where we also have to be real careful from the standpoint that we have a President that’s not from the political class,” Schweikert said. “The learning of the disciplined use of language and what certain words mean in our context — if you’re not from this world you may not have developed that discipline.”
Schweikert is saying that Trump, as a political neophyte, may lack the “discipline” of language to avoid obstructing justice or giving the appearance of obstruction of justice.
“Sometimes when you’re as we were just hearing, saying, ‘tell the world I’m not the subject of the investigation,’ well the very fact of asking you to tell the world may be a violation of — because you asked them to tell the world. I mean think about that circle,” said Schweikert.
He added that he believed the special investigation was “healthy” because it would help set the facts straight as to what actually happened, and answer whether any issues were a matter of “just ill-used language” or actual wrongdoing.
Trump ran for the presidency by bragging, among other things, that he had “the best words.” He also touted his reputation as a legendary dealmaker and businessman, which presumably requires mastery of language and a passing familiarity with legal norms. Now, as president, he has an entire team of lawyers whose job it is to help him navigate the (admittedly arcane) legal system.
And as President of the United States, Trump has the power to trigger international crises through as little as one unfortunate turn of phrase. There’s more than just his own guilt or innocence at state when even his supporters admit he lacks the ability to choose his words carefully.
Nonetheless, more and more Republican politicians have been embracing the incompetence defense to absolve Trump of intentional wrongdoing.
After ousted FBI director James Comey testified that President Trump had tried to cultivate an inappropriately close relationship with him, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) excused Trump’s actions because he’s “new to government.”
“He probably wasn’t steeped in the long-running protocols that establish the relationships between DOJ, FBI, and White Houses. He’s just new to this,” said Ryan.
WATCH: Pres. Trump was “just new to this,” Speaker Ryan argues on how Pres. Trump handled his private conversations with Comey. https://t.co/qETcxuiXTi
And speaking on Face the Nation on Sunday, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) offered a similar lamentation — expressing his frustration that the president couldn’t stop putting his foot in his mouth.
“But here’s what’s so frustrating for Republicans like me: You may be the first President in history to go down because you can’t stop inappropriately talking about an investigation that if you just were quiet would clear you,” Graham said.
Trump backers try out the incompetence defense against obstruction concerns was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee Tuesday afternoon just days after fired FBI Director James Comey appeared before the same…
Kasowitz is said to have told Trump “this guy is going to get you.”
President Donald Trump’s personal attorney Marc Kasowitz bragged to friends that he was behind the president’s decision to fire U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, four sources familiar with the conversations told ProPublica.
According to their reporting, Kasowitz told Trump, “this guy is going to get you,” regarding Bharara.
Some familiar with Kasowitz reportedly cautioned that he tends to exaggerate his importance. But if ProPublica’s report is true, it would indicate that Trump’s personal attorney, who is handling matters related to the Russia probe, has also been involved in matters of governance.
Sheesh, I haven’t even had my covfefe yet. https://t.co/50v0h1I3uF
It’s common for presidents to ask U.S. attorneys to resign when the administration turns over. In November, however, Trump asked Bharara — the U.S. Attorney for the powerful Southern District of New York — to continue in his role.
Then, in March, Trump abruptly asked all the remaining U.S. attorneys to turn in their resignations. After Bharara refused, the president fired him.
As a U.S. attorney, Bharara had a reputation for taking on powerful politicians. His jurisdiction included Trump Tower and Trump’s New York business interests. At the time of his firing, he was reportedly investigating stock trades made by Trump’s Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, and heading up an investigation into payments made by Fox News to cover up allegations of sexual harassment against then-chairman Roger Ailes. After being ousted from Fox, Ailes became an adviser to Trump’s campaign.
On Sunday, Bharara told ABC that Trump fired him after a series of “unusual” phone calls, which made him feel that the president could be trying to undermine his independence as a federal prosecutor.
“It appeared to be that he was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship,” he said. Trump called Bharara three times; the third time, Bharara did not return the call. Twenty-two hours later, Trump fired him.
Bharara’s account matches that of ousted FBI director James Comey, who testified in the Senate last week about a series of uncomfortable interactions with the president. According to Comey, Trump asked him for his “loyalty” and said he “hoped” Comey would drop the investigation into former Trump National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.
In a shocking move, Trump fired Comey in early May. The president told Lester Holt in a subsequent interview that he was thinking of Comey’s investigation into whether the Trump campaign colluded with Russian election hacking when he removed Comey.
The firings fit into an emerging pattern of Trump firing public officials who criticize him. In January, he fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates after she refused to defend his first travel ban.
Yates said that the ban was unconstitutional and discriminatory. She was fired immediately thereafter. Two versions of the ban have since been struck down repeatedly by the courts as unconstitutional and discriminatory.
On Monday night, Trump confidant and CEO of the conservative NewsMax Media Christopher Ruddy told PBS that Trump is considering firing Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who is now in charge of the independent probe into the Russia allegations.
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer responded that “only the president or his attorneys are authorized to comment” on the matter.
If Trump were to fire Mueller — who was appointed after Comey’s firing prompted questions of obstruction of justice — it would bring up immediate parallels to one of the most explosive sequences of the Watergate saga. In what is now referred to as the Saturday Night Massacre, Nixon ordered his attorney general to fire special prosecutor Archibald Cox, leading to the resignation of both Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus in protest.
Trump’s personal lawyer reportedly takes credit for Preet Bharara’s firing was originally published in ThinkProgress on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.
Retired FBI agent James Gagliano, who has worked under both former FBI Director James Comey and Special Counsel Robert Mueller, who also once helmed the bureau, said…