Trump attorney Jay Sekulow lost his cool and his coherence on Fox News Sunday yesterday after he inadvertently said that Donald Trump is under investigation - right in the middle of trying to argue that Donald Trump is not under investigation for obstruction of justice.
Apparently, Sekulow’s Sean Hannity’s near-nightly gig on Hannity to attack Trump critics has been parlayed into a paying job defending Trump as an attorney. But Sekulow is either too new in his job to have prepared a good argument on Trump’s behalf or he miscalculated that host Chris Wallace would be as sycophantic as Sean Hannity.
Sekulow’s troubles began as a result of Wallace’s first question, about Trump’s tweet that he is “being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt.”
"Has the special counsel, Robert Mueller, formally notified the president that he is under investigation?" Wallace asked.
Sekulow first argued that Trump “has not been notified by anyone that he’s under investigation” and that the tweet “was in response to The Washington Post story that alleged that five unnamed sources, anonymous sources, leaked to The Washington Post, that the president was, in fact, under investigation. So that tweet was in response to that.”
In other words, Sekulow was trying to argue that Trump had promoted supposedly fake news in his tweet and hadn't bothered to check if it was true. It was a point that Wallace ignored. But he did continue pressing Sekulow on whether or not Trump is being investigated (transcript excerpts via Fox News):
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.
Next, Wallace challenged Sekulow on Trump’s attack on Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, noting that it’s Mueller, not Rosenstein, doing the investigating. Wallace also played a clip of Trump saying on NBC that he decided to fire Comey regardless of Rosenstein. And that’s where the trouble started for Sekulow. Because after twice arguing that he didn’t think Trump is under investigation, Sekulow suddenly said otherwise.
SEKULOW: 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 caught the slip. But when he pointed it out to Sekulow, the attorney became almost unhinged as he now insisted he had not said what we all heard him say:
WALLACE: Well, I—what—what—what’s the question (INAUDIBLE). I mean you—you stated—you stated some facts. First of all, you’ve now said that he is getting investigated after saying that you didn’t.
WALLACE: You—you just, sir, that he’s being—
SEKULOW: No, he’s not being investigated!
WALLACE: You just said that he’s being investigated.
SEKULOW: No, Chris, I said that the—any—let me be crystal clear so you—you completely understand. We have not received nor are we aware of any investigation of the president of the United States, period.
WALLACE: Sir, you just said two times that he’s being investigated.
SEKULOW: No. The context of the tweet, I just gave you the legal theory, Chris, of how the Constitution works. If, in fact, it was correct that the president was being investigated, he would be investigating for taking action that an agency told him to take. So that is protected under the Constitution as his article one power. That’s all I said. So I appreciate you trying to rephrase it, but I’m just being really direct with you, Chris. This is—let me be—
WALLACE: No, I—I—sir, I didn’t rephrase it. The tape will speak—Jay, the tape will speak for itself. You said he is being investigated.
Sekulow went on to whine, “I do not appreciate you putting words in my mouth when I’ve been crystal clear that the president is not and has not been under investigation. I don’t think I can be any clearer than that.”
Wallace accepted Sekulow’s slip as a misspeak and the two came to agreement that Sekulow doesn’t know for sure Trump is not under investigation merely because he has not been notified that he is.
Wallace moved on to ask whether Trump thinks “Robert Mueller has done anything wrong” and whether Rosenstein should recuse himself or be fired.
Sekulow was no more adept nor coherent trying to address these issues either.
Watch the fireworks below, from the June 18, 2017 Fox News Sunday.
1) Contrary to Sekulow’s assertions, the Rosenstein memo actually stopped a bit short of out-and-out recommending Comey’s firing, and notably absent from Rosenstein’s list of third parties criticizing Comey was the slightest suggestion of dishonesty on Comey’s part. Credibility is at this point the only thing that counts for Comey as witness. and no one but Trump and his worst lackies has suggested anything other than that Comey is honest to a fault,
2) Sekulow says Trump didn’t say anything about Mueller, but it’s documented that Trump did! (e.g. that Mueller is “conflicted”),
3) Comey wasn’t bound by attorney-client privilege because Comey wasn’t acting as Trump’s attorney the way Sekulow is. Thank God, Comey’s client was the constitution and the country, not Trump.
4) Sekulow says he’s not there to express Trump’s beliefs. Isn’t it a bit of a non-sequitir for Sekulow to follow that statement with “I’m not the client’s conscience”? That quick comeback may have worked for Sekulow in other contexts, but here it only brings attention to the real possibility that Trump may not have a conscience.
5) Sekulow says he’s not going to say what conversations he had “not had” with the President, but earlier he said he hadn’t talked to the President about Rosenstein.
I’ve never seen Anti-Secular Sekulow this flustered. Perhaps he feels he was boxed into becoming the President’s lawyer because he has so often defended Trump on air.
I’m sure we’ll see him on Sean’s show tonight to begin the clean-up. Sean will give him his questions in advance so he’ll be prepared not to go splat.
After this pathetic appearance, you can bet that Jay will get some rehab tonight with some serious fluffing from KKKlannity.