Press: Worse than Nixon

Press: Worse than Nixon
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Is he or is he not under investigation? That depends on whom you ask. If you ask Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump pens op-ed on kindergartners learning tech Bharara, Yates tamp down expectations Mueller will bring criminal charges Overnight Cybersecurity: Equifax security employee left after breach | Lawmakers float bill to reform warrantless surveillance | Intel leaders keeping collusion probe open MORE, the answer is yes. If you ask his attorney, the answer is maybe yes, maybe no.

It all started when The Washington Post reported that special counsel Robert Mueller had scheduled interviews with Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsDon’t throw the baby out with the BATwater Overnight Cybersecurity: DHS bans agencies from using Kaspersky software | Panel calls Equifax CEO to testify | Facebook pulling ads from fake news Mueller investigation focusing on social media's role in 2016 election: report MORE, National Security Agency Director Mike Rogers and recently retired Deputy NSA Director Richard Ledgett. Mueller wants to explore if, in fact, Trump asked each of them to pressure James Comey into dropping his FBI investigation of possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials on the 2016 presidential election.

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The Trump White House responded in a predictable pattern: official denial by Trump’s communication team, followed by official confirmation from Trump himself. Press secretary Sean Spicer denied it was a travel “ban”; Trump tweeted it was a ban. Spicer insisted Russia had nothing to do with Comey’s firing; Trump told Kremlin officials he fired “nut job” Comey to get the” Russian thing” off his back. 

On the Post report, it gets even more weird. First, White House staffers spend 24 hours denying Trump was under investigation. Next, on Friday morning, Trump announced to the world he is under investigation: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.” Then, the White House sent out Trump’s lawyer to contradict the president.

Appearing on the Sunday talk shows, new Trump legal defender Jay Sekulow set out to deny Trump was under investigation (calling the president a liar?). But even he got tangled up in legal jargon. First, he told Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press”: “There is not an investigation of the president of the United States, period.” Then he bounced up on “Fox News Sunday,” informing Chris Wallace that Trump, in fact, “is being investigated for taking the action that the attorney general and deputy attorney general recommended him to take.” When Wallace pointed out the apparent contradiction, Sekulow retreated to his talking points: “We have not received nor are we aware of any investigation of the president of the United States, period.”

So, which is it? When not even the White House can get its story straight, what are we to believe? In this case, from everything Comey said in his testimony and everything the Post reported, we can believe Trump and not his hired gun: The president of the United States is under criminal investigation for possible obstruction of justice.

Ironically, June 19 was the 45th anniversary of the first Washington Post story about Watergate. Ironic, because there are so many similarities between the two: a president known for telling lies, under investigation for obstruction of justice, who tries to get off the hook by firing Justice Department officials leading the investigation.

The difference is that Watergate was about a second-rate burglary; Kremlingate’s about a foreign adversary trying to steal a presidential election.  Kremlingate is just like Watergate, in other words. Only worse.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Show” on Free Speech TV and author of “Buyer’s Remorse: How Obama Let Progressives Down.”


The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.