Secret Service: Jay Sekulow doesn’t know what he’s talking about
The U.S. Secret Service pushed back on a claim made by Donald Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, who said on Sunday morning that a meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer who promised damaging info on Hillary Clinton obtained by the Russian government could not have been “nefarious” because the Secret Service allowed it to happen. According to an agency spokesman, the Secret Service wasn’t involved at all as they were not protecting Trump Jr. at the time.
“Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016,” Mason Brayman told Reuters in an email. “Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time.”
Earlier on Sunday, Sekulow appeared on ABC’s “This Week” asking why Secret Service would have allowed the meeting to take place.
“Well, I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in,” Sekulow said. “The president had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me.”
Again, even if the the Secret Service had been assigned to Trump Jr. at this point, it’s not the Secret Service’s job to make sure nothing nefarious is happening at meetings beyond ensuring the physical safety of those they have been assigned to protect. The meeting probably would have happened either way.
So, while it’s true that Trump himself had Secret Service protection at the time, his children did not. This means that a meeting attended by Trump Jr., Paul Manafort, and Jared Kushner would not have to go through a Secret Service screening of any kind. Basically, if this June 2016 meeting had been vetted by the Secret Service, that would mean Donald Trump or his wife Melania were in attendance (or I suppose technically Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, or Barack Obama could have been there too, but those all seem highly implausible), which would be a pretty big deal.
There is, thus far, an unidentified eighth attendee of the meeting, but I wouldn’t get my hopes up that it was Trump himself. It seems like there simply wasn’t any type of screening at all, based on the statements of the Russian-American lobbyist who also attended the meeting.
“No one asked us for IDs,” Rinat Akhmetshin told Yahoo News when asked about the meeting on Friday. “We literally walked in.”
The long and short of this is Jay Sekulow was wrong on several accounts.
[Reuters | Screen shot via ABC]