Jay Sekulow, an attorney for President Donald Trump, said Sunday that he made a mistake by denying Trump was involved in a misleading statement last year on Donald Trump Jr.’s meeting at Trump Tower with a Russian attorney.
“I had bad information at that time and made a mistake in my statement,” Sekulow said on ABC’s “This Week.” “I’ve talked about that before. That happens when you have cases like this.”
Last year, Sekulow denied Trump had signed off on a statement responding to revelations in The New York Times about the meeting Trump Jr. and other top Trump campaign hands had in June 2016 after being told about the opportunity to receive Russian dirt on Hillary Clinton. That initial statement from Trump Jr. said the meeting primarily concerned “a program about the adoption of Russian children.” But after further Times reporting revealed the motivation related to Clinton, Trump Jr. then issued a new statement acknowledging an offer of allegedly damaging information on Clinton and the Democratic Party, and he ultimately published his emails related to the meeting.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders later admitted last year that Trump “weighed in” on the initial misleading statement about the Trump Tower meeting, and Trump’s legal team sent a letter to special counsel Robert Mueller in January acknowledging that Trump had “dictated” the initial statement.
Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani said in June that the legal team’s previous denial that Trump was involved in the statement was a mistake.
“I swear to God, it was a mistake,” Giuliani said.
CNN reported Saturday that Trump has voiced concerns about Trump Jr.’s legal exposure, and in a tweet on Sunday morning, Trump claimed otherwise, saying the “meeting to get information on an opponent” was legal and that he had not known about it.
Whither an interview?
Sekulow, in his interview Sunday, also touched on the possibility that Trump would refuse an interview with the special counsel team. He predicted that if Mueller met a refusal with a subpoena, the ensuing legal fight would work its way to the Supreme Court.
“If the special counsel makes the determination and gets the authority, and that’s a question – they have to have the authority to seek that subpoena,” Sekulow said. “A subpoena for live testimony has never been tested in court as to a president of the United States.”
Sekulow said Trump might still agree to an interview in some form, but if Mueller moved to compel his testimony, they would be prepared to make an argument about fundamental presidential authority.
“[A] lot of factors go into whether the President of the United States … should sit down for an interview when part of that interview is questioning what his authority is under the Constitution, under Article II.”
Citing the White House’s cooperation on witness and document availability, Sekulow suggested further that the special counsel team did not necessarily need to interview Trump anyway.