- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 18, 2017

A member of President Trump’s legal team dismissed the notion that the president is being personally investigated in the Russia-election problem, despite what Mr. Trump himself seemed to say on Twitter.

“Let me be clear: The president’s not under investigation,” Jay Sekulow said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union,” one of several Sunday political-talk shows on which he appeared. “As James Comey said in his testimony that the president was not the target of an investigation on three different occasions, the president is not a subject or target of an investigation.”

Several media outlets reported last week that the investigation had expanded to include whether Mr. Trump obstructed justice by firing former FBI director James B. Comey, who was heading the inquiry when he was terminated.

The president appeared to confirm that report in a tweet on Friday. “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!” he wrote. “Witch Hunt.”

Mr. Sekulow said the tweet should not be interpreted as confirmation that the president is under investigation.

“That tweet was in response to a Washington Post story that ran with five unnamed sources, without identifying the agencies they represented, saying that the special counsel had broadened out his investigation to include the president,” he said. “We’ve had no indication of that.”

Mr. Trump’s tweet Friday was not the first to cause confusion about the state of the Russia investigation and put his team on the defensive.

In a tweet after Mr. Comey’s firing, the president claimed to have taped conversations with the former FBI director and threatened to release them. Asked when those tapes will be released, Mr. Sekulow said it was up to the president.

“I think the president is going to address that in the week ahead,” Mr. Sekulow said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “There was a lot of issues this past week.”

Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump ally, said the president’s tweets do not always serve him well.

Trump has a compulsion to counterattack and is very pugnacious. I don’t think it serves him well,” Mr. Gingrich said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “I don’t think that tweet helped him. But it’s almost like, it’s who he’s been his whole life. He’s been a fighter his whole life.”

Mr. Gingrich isn’t alone in that judgment.

Rep. Tom Cole, Oklahoma Republican, said Twitter is not the best medium to discuss a topic as nuanced as the Russia investigation.

“I think the president can do some very good things with Twitter, he’s done some very good things with it,” Mr. Cole said Friday on MSNBC. “In terms of investigations, my advice is just to not comment on it.”

The confusion created by Mr. Trump’s tweet was evident when the president’s own lawyer had trouble keeping the story straight Sunday.

In an interview on “Fox News Sunday,” Mr. Sekulow initially denied that Mr. Trump was under investigation, only to reverse the claim later in the interview.

“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,” Mr. Sekulow said.

When Mr. Wallace called out the contradiction, Mr. Sekulow accused the Fox News anchor of “putting words” in his mouth.

“Let me be crystal clear so you completely understand: We have not received nor are we aware of any investigation of the president of the United States,” Mr. Sekulow said. “Period.”

But Rep. Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, said there’s enough “evidence” of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to warrant an investigation.

“Well I think there is evidence,” Mr. Schiff said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.” “I can’t go into the particulars of our closed investigation. But I also think there is evidence of obstruction. But in both cases, I would say, whether there is some evidence doesn’t mean there is proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

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