A lawyer for President Donald Trump clashed with CNN anchor Chris Cuomo Monday morning over whether his client is the target of an FBI investigation into possible collusion with the Russians.
“As I said all weekend, there has been no notification to any of us that the President is under any investigation and as I said, James Comey has said on three separate occasions that the President is not under investigation,” said Jay Sekulow, repeating an argument he also made on CNN’s “State of the Union” with Jake Tapper on Sunday.
On both occasions, Sekulow denied that Trump’s tweet from last week — “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director!” — was a confirmation that he is under investigation.
Cuomo challenged the argument, calling it “illogical.”
“To say, ‘Comey told him he’s not under investigation, so he can’t be’ — that’s illogical,” Cuomo said. “What’s being said right now is that the special counsel is looking at everything, including the circumstances around Comey’s firing. Doesn’t that make sense?”
Sekulow continued, saying that because the President had not been notified of any investigation, reports that he is the target of a probe must be false.
“Just because you haven’t been notified doesn’t mean you’re not under investigation,” Cuomo replied. “There is no duty to inform you.”
“There is a fundamental threshold question there that the President’s authority to terminate the FBI director is based on the Constitution,” Sekulow responded.
The two lawyers then went back and forth, talking over one another. Cuomo maintained that the special counsel in the Russia probe, Robert Mueller, will be looking into the circumstances around Comey’s firing as Sekulow said he couldn’t be sure Mueller would be doing that at all, as the President is able to fire the FBI director per the Constitution.
Ultimately, Sekulow conceded there is “no duty” for the investigators to notify the White House if Trump is being investigated “in the sense of an obligation to tell.”
“But you know how it works in Washington,” Sekulow continued. “If you were a target, if you were being investigated, you would be told really quickly into the investigation.”
“Why don’t you just pick up the phone and call Bob Mueller and ask whether or not your client has any role in their investigation?” Cuomo countered. “It’s not like this White House is averse to making any kind of inquiries about the Russia probe. Why not just find out?”
From there, Sekulow pivoted to the topic of leaks, saying, “The only reason we’re talking about this is because of what? Because of a leak from The Washington Post.”
“That’s absolutely not true. That’s not why I’m asking you about it,” Cuomo said.
The anchor continued, “The idea that Mueller wouldn’t be looking at the circumstances surrounding the firing of the director of the FBI defies common sense.”