Gage Skidmore / Flickr trump hands...
Gage Skidmore / Flickr

Donald Trump is not under personal investigation. So say any number of Trump surrogates, including Trump attorney, Jay Sekulow.

Donald Trump is under personal investigation. So says the Washington Post, the New York Times, NBC News, Donald Trump and … Trump attorney Jay Sekulow.

As part of a round-robin visit to the Sunday morning political talk outlets, Sekulow dropped into the friendly environment of Fox News to deliver a clear message to host Chris Wallace. And then he says this:

Sekulow: The president takes actions, 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 regulation reports still to the Department of Justice, it’s not an independent counsel. So he’s being investigated for taking the action that the attorney general and deputy attorney general wanted him to take, by the agency that recommended the termination. So that’s the constitutional threshhold question here.

Wallace: What’s the question? … First of all, you’ve stated that he is being investigated after saying–

Sekulow: No.

Wallace: You just said, sir–

Sekulow: No, he’s not being investigated.

Wallace: You just said that he’s being investigated.

Sekulow: No, Chris. I said that the inve … Anything … Let me be crystal clear…

Oh, it was already clear enough. Sekulow tried to have his cake and also … cake? What cake?

Elsewhere on the Sunday talk circuit, Sekulow was slightly more consistent in his argument.

A member of President Trump’s legal team said on Sunday that the president was not under investigation by the special counsel looking into Russia’s election-year meddling, contradicting Mr. Trump’s assertion in a Friday morning tweet that he is a subject of the widening inquiry.

The denial on Sunday by Jay Sekulow, one of several personal lawyers Mr. Trump has hired to represent him in the Russia case, is the latest of many examples in which the president’s aides and lawyers have scrambled to avert a public-relations mess created by Mr. Trump’s tweets, off-script remarks or leaked private conversations.

The problem is that trying to argue that Trump isn’t under investigation doesn’t just require a denial of facts that are broadly known, it requires a fleet of lawyers to run around Washington proclaiming that their client lied to the nation.

To defend their precarious legal perch, Sekulow and crew have been reduced to slipping into their argument a statement that Trump hasn’t been informed of any formal investigation. Because that’s what law enforcement always does—let the subject of an investigation know they’re being watched.

The old political saw is “if you’re explaining, you’re losing.” That may need to be extended to including “If your lawyer is explaining, you’re really losing.” Or even, “If your lawyer is explaining that he didn’t say what he said the last time he was explaining … Surrender.”

Meanwhile, Sekulow is on television again on Monday morning, and someone doesn’t want you to miss it.

Deleted Trump Tweet

Except … Trump has now deleted that tweet. Maybe he finally got around to watching Sekulow’s Sunday performance.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


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