One of Donald Trump’s personal lawyers has insisted he is not being investigated – two days after the President claimed that he was.
Mr Trump has in recent days repeatedly hit out at the so-called legal “witch hunt” he says is pursuing his investigation. In one tweet, he said: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”
But in a series of televised interviews, Jay Sekulow, a lawyer who is part of a team hired by Mr Trump to help deal with allegations of collusion by his campaign with Moscow, said he was not being personally investigated.
So who do I believe Trump or Trumps lawyer? Hmmm what to do 😩😩😏— Sandra Williams 📎 (@sondramichell34) June 18, 2017
“The fact of the matter is the President has not been and is not under investigation,” Mr Sekulow said on CBS’ Face the Nation, one of four political shows where he appeared on Sunday.
“There has been no notification from the special counsel’s office that the President is under investigation.”
The pushback from Mr Trump’s legal team came days after a report in the Washington Post said Robert Mueller, the special prosecutor heading the federal probe into possible collusion with Russia, was preparing to interview senior intelligence officials as he looked into whether the President had obstructed justice. The report said the development – which represented a dramatic shift in the course of the probe – came after Mr Trump had fired James Comey from his position as FBI Director.
Mr Trump had previously cited Mr Comey’s testimony, who had told congressional investigators that the President was not personally under investigation.
Pressed as to why Mr Trump had said he was under investigation, if he was not, Mr Sekulow, said Mr Trump was indeed reacting to the Post story. But in comments that added nothing but confusion to the issue, he said the President was not referring to an actual investigation in his message, but rather to a news report about one.
“The tweet from the president was in response to the five anonymous sources purportedly leaking information to the Washington Post,” he said.
Asked why he appeared afraid of an investigation if he had nothing to hide, Mr Sekulow, chief counsel for the conservative American Centre for Law and Justice, said: “He’s not afraid of the investigation – there is no investigation … There is not an investigation of the President of the United States, period.”
Many commentators have said Mr Trump has created repeated problems for himself by his seemingly spontaneous use of social media. However, Mr Sekulow defended his tweets, saying “he’s responding to what he’s seeing in the media in a way in which he thinks is appropriate to talk to those people that put him in office”.
Mr Mueller, himself a former FBI Director, is investigating whether anyone associated with Mr Trump or his campaign had any illegal dealings with Russian officials or others with ties to the Kremlin.
He is also looking at whether, if any potential offences were committed, the President or anyone else attempted to cover them up or obstruct the investigation into them.
Mr Trump, who spent the weekend at the Camp David presidential retreat, also tweeted again on Sunday, saying: “The Make America Great Again agenda is doing very well despite the distraction of the Witch Hunt.”
Florida senator Marco Rubio, who had challenged Mr Trump in the Republican primary for the presidency, said he felt it would be better for both the President, and the entire country, if a full, independent investigation were to proceed.
“This is is going to move forward,” Mr Rubio, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, which is carrying out its own investigation into Russia, told NBC.
“We are going to get the full truth out there. I believe this is the thing that could happen for the President.”