President Donald Trump is not under investigation for obstruction of justice, despite his tweet Friday that appeared to confirm otherwise, a member of his legal team said on nearly every major Sunday TV talk show.
“Let me be clear: The president’s not under investigation,” Jay Sekulow told CNN’s “State of the Union.” “As James Comey says in his testimony . . . the president was not the target of investigation on three different occasions.”
Sekulow on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” said he knows Trump has not been targeted in a probe “because we’ve received no notice of investigation.”
The attorney told both shows — as well as the NBC News and Fox News Sunday morning programs — that Trump was simply responding to a Washington Post report.
At the heart of Sunday’s debate was a Friday tweet by Trump: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”
It made no mention of the Post story, which said special counsel Robert Mueller’s FBI probe has widened to include a look into potential obstruction of justice and financial crimes by Trump associates.
The tweet was widely interpreted as an acknowledgment that Trump was under legal and criminal scrutiny by Mueller. It also appeared to be a criticism of Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who appointed Mueller and had written a letter recommending the ouster of FBI Director James Comey.
Trump told NBC News’ Lester Holt last month that he made the decision to fire Comey with the Russia probe on his mind and before Rosenstein’s recommendation.
Sekulow’s interviews Sunday were the first on-record pushbacks on readings of the tweet as an affirmation. A source close to Trump’s outside legal team, speaking anonymously, had said Friday the president was talking about the Post report.
The president, who is spending his first weekend at the presidential Camp David retreat in Maryland, tweeted Sunday morning that his “agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt.” He ticked through achievements such as deregulation measures and the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, touted a job approval rating poll, and promised “Infrastructure, Healthcare and Tax Cuts in works!”
Talk show hosts challenged Sekulow’s explanation, which appeared to contradict the tweet.
NBC News’ “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd asked, “Then why did he say he was? I mean, was this just mistweeted? Are we not to take him at his word?”
CNN host Jake Tapper asked, “So the president said ‘I am under investigation’ even though he isn’t under investigation?”
Twitter’s 140-character limit barred Trump from adding more context and referencing the Post article, Sekulow, who is chief counsel to the Washington, D.C.-based American Center for Law & Justice, told CNN.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told CNN that Mueller has a “stellar” reputation and he believes the investigation must be carried out.
“The best thing that could happen for the president, and the country, is a full and credible investigation,” Rubio said.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), who sits on the Senate Intelligence Committee, told NBC News’ “Meet the Press” that the panel’s work is far from concluded.
“I can say categorically that the collusion, the cooperation aspect of the investigation is not over. And as far as that goes, I’d say we’re 20 percent into it,” he said.