Posted Jun 20, 2017 10:18 am CDT
Jay Sekulow, who made a career as a litigator for evangelical legal groups, had a rough time in a television interview on Sunday after he joined President Donald Trump’s legal team.
Sekulow told interviewer Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday that Trump was just commenting on news reports when he tweeted, “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.” Sekulow said Trump isn’t under investigation, then appeared to contradict himself. Stories on Sekulow and his comments appear in the New York Times, and the Washington Post here, here and here.
According to the Post, Wallace noted the contradiction, which he “seized upon for maximum effect.”
Sekulow, chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, is part of the team advising Trump in the Russian influence investigation that is led by Trump’s personal lawyer, Marc Kasowitz, the Washington Post reported last week.
Sekulow was general counsel for Jews for Jesus before he started his own nonprofit, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism. Later he became lead counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, a group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson. He also hosts his own syndicated radio show.
Sekulow has argued a dozen cases before the U.S. Supreme Court. In his first high court case, he successfully argued against a ban on the distribution of religious literature at the Los Angeles International Airport.
Washington Post has a partial transcript of the Chris Wallace interview. The exchange begins after Chris Wallace asks whether Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein has done anything wrong.
Sekulow says the president never said Rosenstein did anything wrong. Sekulow goes on to say:
“Here’s what—what is the legal situation here. There is a constitutional issue when you have this scenario. The president made a determination based on consult of advice. He decided ultimately. He’s the commander in chief. He gets to make that decision that James Comey had a go. …
“It was put forward in a memorandum—that’s what the president’s referencing—from the deputy attorney general and the attorney general requesting the removal of James Comey as the FBI director. And, ultimately, that’s the president’s determination.
“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.”
Wallace then points out that Sekulow just said the president is being investigated. Sekulow responds that the president isn’t being investigated. “We have not received nor are we aware of any investigation of the president of the United States, period,” Sekulow says.
Sekulow said his comments were part of his explanation 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 I power,” Sekulow said.