TrumpWatch, Day 150: Trump — I’m Under Investigation; Trump’s Lawyer — No, He’s Not

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Donald Trump's personal attorney Jay Sekulow on Fox News Sunday

Jay Sekulow: “No one has notified us there is an investigation of the President of the United States”


Developments on Day 150 of the Trump Administration:

Trump’s Lawyer Contradicts Trump Over Investigation of Russia Links

A member of Donald Trump’s legal team contradicts his client, insisting that Trump is not under investigation by Special Counsel Robert Mueller over Russia’s interference in the 2016 election.

Trump confirmed on Friday morning via Twitter that he is now a subject of the inquiry, amid anger that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has not dismissed Mueller.

See TrumpWatch, Day 148: Trump Presses Deputy Attorney General to Fire Special Counsel

But Jay Sekulow, one of several lawyers retained by Trump for the inquiry, toured Sunday morning talk shows to declare that the statement is not true: “No one has notified us there is an investigation of the President of the United States.”

Sekulow struggled to escape Trump’s tweet, to the point of disbelief by Fox News host Chris Wallace. The attorney finally maintained that Trump was merely responding to the five US officials cited in a Washington Post article, and that he had been constrained by Twitter’s limit of 140 characters per post.

Pressed by Wallace, Sekulow finally conceded that he “can’t read people’s minds”, while repeating that there had been “no notification of an investigation” by Mueller and that he could not “imagine a scenario” where Trump would be under investigation and not be aware of it.

A prosecutor may inform the subject or target of an investigation that a probe is underway but is under no obligation to do so.

According to the U.S. Attorney’s Manual, prosecutors are encouraged to notify investigation targets at a “reasonable time” before seeking an indictment, to provide a target the opportunity to testify in front of a grand jury. But it outlines no requirement of notification, particularly while prosecutors are gathering evidence.

In a rambling answer, Sekulow struggled to explain Trump’s attack on Rosenstein, slipping into the contradiction, “He is being investigated for the action that the Deputy Attorney General recommended him to take [the firing of FBI Director James Comey] by the agency that made the determination.”

As Sekulow repeated his assertion that Trump never actually said he was being investigated, CNN’s Jake Tapper asked, “Is that not frustrating for you as an attorney to have a client that is sharing information with the world that’s not accurate?”

The lawyer replied, “Look, this is…a President that has utilized social media, that has revolutionized the whole concept of electioneering when it comes to use of social media. He’s able to communicate with 107 million people on his various social media platforms on a regular basis as he needs to, so he can directly reach a lot of people.”

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Scott Lucas is Professor of International Politics at the University of Birmingham and editor-in-chief of EA WorldView. He is a specialist in US and British foreign policy and international relations, especially the Middle East and Iran. Formerly he worked as a journalist in the US, writing for newspapers including the Guardian and The Independent and was an essayist for The New Statesman before he founded EA WorldView in November 2008.

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