Jay Sekulow, one of Donald Trump’s top attorneys working on the Russia scandal, appeared on all five Sunday morning public-affairs shows yesterday, mostly sticking to a fairly predictable script. The Republican lawyer, for example, accused former FBI director James Comey of having “illegally leaked information,” which isn’t true, and added that opposition research “is not a thing of value,” which is absurd.
But on ABC’s “This Week,” Sekulow raised a point I hadn’t heard before. Referring to the controversial June 2016 meeting between members of Trump’s inner circle, a Kremlin-linked lawyer, and a former Soviet counterintelligence officer, Sekulow said:
“I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in. The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me.”
That’s an odd thing to say. In Sekulow’s mind, it was up to the Secret Service to intervene and prevent “nefarious” meetings from taking place between Trump campaign officials and foreign nationals? Is this some sort of new buck-passing argument?
In a statement released yesterday, a spokesperson for the Secret Service said Donald Trump Jr., who helped organize the meeting in order to receive campaign information from the Russian government, did not have a protective detail at the time. “Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016,” the statement said. “Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time.”
It’s worth noting for context that the Secret Service rarely weighs in on political debates, but with the president’s lawyer giving misleading information about the agency’s work to a national television audience, the Secret Service apparently felt the need to clarify matters yesterday.
Perhaps Sekulow was confused about a subject he doesn’t understand. The other possibility, I suppose, is that Donald Trump Sr. – which is to say, the then-candidate and now-president – had some kind of direct role in this meeting after all?