Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow was deployed for a “Full Ginsburg” this Sunday, hitting all of the Sunday morning talk shows in a desperate bid to defend the Trump campaign's attempted (and likely successful) collusion with Russians during the 2016 presidential campaign. It did not go well.
Sekulow got slapped around by CNN's Jake Tapper, tried to blame the Secret Service on “This Week,” and repeated the phrase “I don't represent Donald Trump Jr.” like he was hoping it would make Beetlejuice appear.
But perhaps the best indication of how poorly this is going for the White House is a pair of interviews from this Sunday. On ABC News's “This Week,” House Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA) told host Jon Karl that the Trump Tower meeting shows “clear evidence” of intent to collude:
KARL: But if we look at this Trump Tower meeting — and certainly it’s problematic and the shifting explanations of it are problematic — but the bottom line, is there any evidence whatsoever tying this meeting or that Russian lawyer to the centerpiece of this Russian influence campaign, which was the hack of the DNC, the hack of the Clinton campaign emails? Is there anything whatsoever tying this meeting to that activity by the Russians?
SCHIFF: Well, you know, it is certainly tied in the sense that this is about as clear evidence you could find of intent by the campaign to collude with the Russians, to get useful information from the Russians.
KARL: A willingness to accept we see from the president’s son, but we don’t see anything —
SCHIFF: More than that, though — a willingness not only to accept, but to indicate to Russia what the best timing was. Of course, Don Jr. says in the emails ‘Late summer.’ And what do we know about late summer? That’s when the Russians start dumping this information.
That's not an entirely unexpected reaction from a Democratic leader, but what's striking is just how similar that sounds to what Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace was saying to Sekulow at almost the same time:
WALLACE: But the point is, it does show intent, willingness, perhaps not actual collusion because apparently, and, in fact, none of us know what really went on to the meeting, but assuming that at least on that point everybody is telling the truth, doesn't it show intent and willingness on the part of Don, Jr., and Jared and Paul Manafort to collude with the Russians?
And let me just point out, Natalia Veselnitskaya was not just some Russian off the street. She had close ties to people in the Kremlin.
SEKULOW: Well, number one, if it was — the discussion was going to be about — if it was going to be about Russian opposition research that a Russian lawyer had, the fact is, those goes on — you know that goes on the campaigns all the time. Opposition research is a big part of campaigning. I just gave you the example —
WALLACE: It doesn't go on with Russians all the time, Jay.
Although Wallace didn't go as far as Rep. Schiff did in identifying the clear pattern of behavior that followed the meeting, he was tough on Sekulow throughout the interview, continually slapping back at Sekulow's attempts to normalize the meeting.
One point that was barely challenged during those five interviews was Sekulow's lie that the Russians were shopping an “opposition research paper,” which only Jake Tapper debunked. The email promised Russian government documents, which were reportedly delivered at the meeting, and which Tapper accurately described as “high-level intelligence on Hillary Clinton” that could have come from “the FSB, the successor to the KGB,” or “human intelligence or signals intelligence.”
“Normal is oppo is legally obtained,” Tapper told Sekulow:
That's a major point that a lot of journalists missed in their zeal to craft the perfect “gotcha” question, and it's one that cannot be stressed enough. Journalists who think that “objectivity” requires them to give equal weight to the Trump cover story are committing dangerous journalistic malpractice. The contents of those emails and the pattern of behavior following that meeting clearly contradict that cover story, and reporters who ignore that are being foolish.
Please note: This is a commentary piece. The views and opinions expressed within it are those of the author only and do not necessarily reflect the editorial opinion of IJR