In a heated interview with Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace, Jay Sekulow, a member of President Donald Trump's personal legal team, repeatedly insisted that the president is not under investigation by the special counsel overseeing the federal Russia probe, contradicting a Washington Post report and Trump's own tweet declaring that he is a subject of the inquiry.
Appearing on several morning news shows Sunday, Sekulow attempted to convince viewers that the president was not speaking literally when he tweeted Friday: "I'm being investigated for firing the FBI director by the man who told me to fire the FBI director. Witch hunt!"
As he did in exchanges with other news anchors, Sekulow bullishly emphasized to Wallace that Trump's tweet should only be interpreted as a response to the Post report and insisted that that no one has notified Trump or his team that the president is under investigation.
"I can't read people's minds, but I can tell you this: We have not been notified that there's an investigation of the president of the United States. So nothing has changed," Sekulow said.
But right after he made that declaration, the interview took an interesting and confusing twist: Sekulow then said — twice — that the president is being investigated.
"He takes the action that they also, by the way, recommended. And now he's being investigated by the Department of Justice," Sekulow told Wallace. "So he's being investigated for taking the action the attorney general and deputy attorney general recommended him to take by the agency that recommended the determination."
Wallace's reaction was, basically: Sorry, what?
A bit confused and bemused, the Fox News anchor alerted Sekulow that he had just admitted that the president is being investigated while simultaneously insisting that Trump is not part of the Justice Department's probe.
The following exchange was...something.
Wallace: Well, I—what—what... First of all, you've now said that he is being investigated —
Wallace: You — just said, sir, that he's being—
Sekulow: No, he's not being investigated!
Wallace: You just said that he's being investigated.
Sekulow: No, Chris, I said that — 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.
Wallace: Sir, you just said two times that he's being investigated.
The two men continued to interrupt each other as Sekulow insisted that he did not say what he'd just said, but had simply been explaining "the legal theory of how the constitution works."
"If in fact it's correct that the president is being investigated, he's being investigated for taking an action that an agency told him to take. That is protected under the constitution," Sekulow argued.
Things continued to go downhill from there. "You're asking me now questions about what people are thinking in their minds," Sekulow told Wallace. "Which...I don't read minds."
After a few more minutes of interrupting and back-and-forth, Wallace grilled Sekulow over rumors that the president wants to fire Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and special prosecutor Robert Mueller, who is now leading the Russia probe. Sekulow again repeated that he cannot read minds.
"No, Chris, I deal with fact and law," Sekulow said. "You're asking me to read people's minds."
Exasperated, Wallace replied, "Actually, what I'm trying to get is a straight answer out of you."
The rest of the interview is just as perplexing. You can watch it here.
Brianna Sacks is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Los Angeles.
Contact Brianna Sacks at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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