The Mueller report was, roughly speaking, the media’s version of “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” They all thought it was going to be great for business — and then it came out.
But hey, even when you have a flop on your hands, you milk the heck out of it. So, now we’ve moved from Russian collusion and obstruction of justice to fevered cries of why we haven’t seen the full report or the president’s answers to the special counsel.
As most of you no doubt know, Robert Mueller’s investigations submitted a set of written questions to Trump about Russian collusion and whether he obstructed justice in the investigation into it, which were duly answered last November. Even though he negotiated an agreement that the answers wouldn’t be released, members of the media — including Chris Cuomo and his permanent rictus of incipient annoyance — are demanding their release.
Jay Sekulow, one of Trump’s lawyers, appeared Monday on Cuomo’s crosstalk-fest, where he addressed whether the written answers ought to be released.
“I’m not waiving…anything. Absent what? A court order. And there’s going to be no court order here.”
Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow says he won’t volunteer a public release of the President’s written answers to the Special Counsel without a clear court order https://t.co/uiYuCHhJ7V pic.twitter.com/pstsIUhYtT
— Cuomo Prime Time (@CuomoPrimeTime) March 26, 2019
Both Cuomo and Sekulow, it’s worth noting, are attorneys. After examining the exchange, you’ll probably have a good idea which one you’d prefer as legal representation.
Cuomo began the dialogue on the issue by asking why he shouldn’t be able to look at the president’s answers to the special counsel.
“Well, number one, you don’t have a right to see the president’s answers,” Sekulow responded.
When asked why not, he said, “Because if I was representing you and worked out an arrangement with the special counsel or U.S. attorney and this was going to be done in a particular way, would you be comfortable with me releasing your records?
“If I were president of the United States and it was a matter of critical importance and confidence to the American people, yes, I would,” Cuomo said.
As an aside here, I’m sure Cuomo makes a lot more money on TV than he would down at the courtroom — even with the family name — but this legal advice from the CNN host makes me think it’s a massive blessing he had punditry to fall back upon.
Sekulow noted that both Trump and every other American are considered the same under the law, asking why it should “make a difference if it were president of the United States or if it’s you, Chris Cuomo?”
“But I don’t think it’s a legal argument,” Cuomo said. “I think it’s a political duty as the highest elected office of the land.”
“Look, the facts are, they asked questions, we responded,” Sekulow said.
“I’m the president’s lawyer. So I’m not waiving — as you would — anything, absent … a court order. And there’s not going to be a court order here.”
Having lost on that account, Cuomo then moved onto whether the president should have used the word “exonerate” when describing what the Mueller report had to say about him.
No Collusion, No Obstruction, Complete and Total EXONERATION. KEEP AMERICA GREAT!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 24, 2019
Sekulow noted that a prosecutor doesn’t do the job of exonerating.
“I don’t know why he didn’t make the call!” an incredulous Cuomo said.
“I’ll tell you why,” Sekulow said. “He said it raised ‘difficult questions of law and fact.’ You were an attorney. When you have difficult questions of law and difficult facts, guess what you don’t do?”
“Prosecute,” Cuomo said.
I believe this is what the kids call “pwnt.” The only thing that Sekulow got wrong here is that at last report, Cuomo remains an attorney, just not a practicing one. (And after watching this exchange, thank God for that; this guy apparently has a legal-skills-to-self-promotion ratio slightly more respectable than Michael Avenatti’s.)
Other than that, Sekulow was entirely on-point.
President Trump gave written answers to the special counsel with the negotiated understanding that they wouldn’t be released to the public. None of the answers seem to have implicated him in perjury, at least for what we can glean from the report. Why would his lawyers waive the rights they negotiated? Just because the media insists on extending this spectacle as long as possible? So that the punditocracy can spend more news cycles poring over each word in his answers as if they were lit professors trying to interpret Thomas Pynchon?
A flop is a flop. There’s almost certainly nothing in the president’s answers or the full Mueller report that will turn it into a blockbuster, no matter how desperately Chris Cuomo and everyone else at CNN might hope for it.
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