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Trump’s lawyers deny he’s under investigation

US President Trump's lawyers deny he is under investigation, contradicting an anonymously sourced story which in a tweet the President appeared to have confirmed.

US President Trump’s legal team has flatly denied claims that he is being investigated by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for obstruction of justice.  Instead they claim that President Trump’s tweets apparently confirming that he was under investigation were provoked entirely by the report in the Washington Post.

This was always a possibility and here is what I said about that previously

Rosenstein’s statement leaves open the possibility that President Trump’s tweet this morning originates not from any briefing by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein but from the Washington Post story itself, with the President assuming that this story is true before he has been properly briefed on it.

This is exactly what a member of President Trump’s legal team is now reported as saying

Jay Sekulow, a lawyer who is part of a team hired by Trump to deal with allegations of collusion by his campaign with Moscow, made the rounds on Sunday talk shows to cast doubt on media reports citing unnamed sources – and to add nuance to a straightforward claim Trump made on Friday that he was under investigation.

“The fact of the matter is the president has not been and is not under investigation,” Sekulow said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” – in one of four interviews he gave on Sunday – adding that the president has not received any notification that he is being investigated…..

Sekulow said that Trump, in his tweet, was reacting to a story in the Washington Post that was the first to report Mueller was examining whether Trump had tried to obstruct the probe by firing FBI director James Comey in May.

In its discussion of Sekulow’s comments Reuters tries to revive the claim that President Trump actually is under investigation by saying that the Special Counsel Mueller would be under no obligation to tell him if he actually was or not

Barak Cohen, a former Justice Department lawyer and now a defense attorney specializing in white-collar crime and investigations, said there was no requirement that the special counsel notify Trump he was under investigation, so the lack of such notice meant nothing.

He said, however, that Sekulow’s comments could mean the White House was taking the position that no investigation exists until Mueller’s team officially confirms it, disregarding any media reports based on anonymous sourcing.

Cohen said the first official communication that a target is under investigation typically comes when prosecutors begin requesting documents and other evidence. At that time, defense lawyers often will ask for their client’s status.

Prosecutors will often answer then to avoid misleading the target. But they may also not answer if they are trying to build a case and develop further evidence.

“No answer is probably the most troubling answer in criminal defense,” said Cohen.

I have to say that I find this argument farfetched.  It would imply that Mueller is failing to tell Trump that he is under investigation despite the story being all over the newspapers, which not only seems to me completely unethical but if it is true grossly unfair and improper.

Besides I cannot believe that if Mueller really were investigating the President of the United States he would not inform the Justice Department of this, and that they in turn would not pass on this information to the President himself.  It is an error in my opinion to draw parallels between an investigation of the President of the United States and other criminal investigations.  In the case of the President – the country’s head of state and chief executive – far more rigorous procedures must apply.

There is also the fact which I discussed previously, that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein’s statement of 15th June 2017 appeared to be a roundabout way of denying the story that the President is in fact under investigation.   Here is what I previously said about that

Coming the day after the Washington Post story that the President is under investigation, this statement appears to warn Americans against believing this story, and moreover does so in a way that hints that the ‘officials’ who leaked that story are not even Americans.   Indeed the statement opens up the possibility that many of the leaks which have so destabilised the Trump administration since before the inauguration have their origins outside the US, which has huge implications if it turns out to be true.

Rosenstein’s statement leaves open the possibility that President Trump’s tweet this morning originates not from any briefing by Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein but from the Washington Post story itself, with the President assuming that this story is true before he has been properly briefed on it.

Sekulow’s denial that the President is under investigation has been made in the open on television.  The claim that the President is under investigation was first made in an anonymously sourced story in the Washington Post.

As I have repeatedly said, in any rational world an open and public denial would be given more weight than an anonymously sourced rumour.  In the Russiagate scandal the media however is doing the opposite.  Just as the New York Times refuses to retract its 14th February 2017 story about how US intelligence supposedly intercepted a large number of communications between members of the Trump campaign and Russian spies despite former FBI Director Comey publicly and on oath saying it is largely untrue, so the media apparently prefers to believe an anonymously sourced story in the Washington Post that the President is under investigation to the very public denial that he is from his lawyer.

In light of this it is difficult to disagree with the President that this whole affair has now developed all the worst qualities of a witch hunt.

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Alexander Mercouris
Editor-in-Chief atThe Duran.

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