Jay Sekulow, a new addition to President Donald Trump’s legal team, faced tough questioning on CNN on Monday morning after a weekend of heated exchanges with cable news hosts over whether Trump is a subject of the FBI’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 election and possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia.
The questions were prompted by a tweet the president wrote last week in which he appeared to acknowledge that he is a subject of the FBI’s investigation, which he seem to erroneously assert is being led by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein.
On CNN’s “New Day,” Sekulow argued that the president is not under investigation, despite his tweet and a Washington Post report suggesting otherwise, because the White House hasn’t been informed that he is. The top attorney also maintained that there cannot be any investigation into Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey because the president had full constitutional authority to oust the agency head.
In a contentious exchange, CNN host Chris Cuomo rejected Sekulow’s claims, arguing that special counsel Robert Mueller, who is overseeing the FBI’s investigation, does not have an obligation to inform the president that he is a subject of the probe. Cuomo also challenged Sekulow’s claim that the president is above legal reproach for obstruction of justice in his firing of Comey, noting that the question has never before been litigated.
“You say he can’t be under investigation because I haven’t been told, and that’s a specious premise, you know there’s no duty to tell you whether he’s under investigation,” Cuomo said.
Sekulow sidestepped Cuomo’s charge, returning to his claim that the president’s reasons for firing Comey cannot be investigated given that the FBI director serves at the pleasure of the president.
“That’s incorrect,” Sekulow responded. “What I’m talking about here is the constitutional issue of the president’s ability to take action based on the recommendation of his people and based on his authority as the president of the United States.”
Later in the interview, Cuomo asked Sekulow why Trump’s legal team has not directly asked Mueller whether the president is under investigation, suggesting that they are purposefully remaining ignorant on the question.
“Look, you’re asking me to pick up the phone on an investigation we don’t even know exists,” Sekulow said.
“No, I’m not,” Cuomo responded. “You know it exists. You know Mueller is looking at this. Why don’t you just pick up the phone and find out, if it matters so much to the president, whether or not he’s being looked at, find out.”
“I’m just one lawyer,” Sekulow said. “I haven’t made that call. That’s the end of that line of inquiry.”
Watch the exchange below:
— New Day (@NewDay) June 19,2017