During an interview on Wednesday’s edition of Chris Cuomo’s CNN show, Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow suggested that footage of the infamous May 2017 interview with NBC’s Lester Holt in which the president essentially copped to obstruction of justice has somehow been doctored.
Sekulow offered no evidence for his claim, which isn’t consistent with video of the interview.
The president’s lawyer made his bizarre case in response to Cuomo’s comment that “the president does the interview with Lester Holt and says, ‘I was gonna fire [former FBI Director James Comey] anyway! Because I said this Russia thing, it’s just not right. I’m getting rid of him.'”
Cuomo was referring to Trump’s interview with Holt — one that aired two days after Trump fired Comey — in which Trump admitted he fired Comey because he was frustrated about the FBI’s active criminal investigation of his campaign. Comey’s firing and Trump’s rationale for it is now a focus of special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation of Trump for obstruction of justice.
As Cuomo briefly recounted the interview, Sekulow interjected to say that his recollection of what Trump said to Holt — one incontrovertibly consistent with the extended video of the interview — was somehow incorrect.
“Actually, not correct. There is actually a transcript of the entire Lester Holt interview — and as you know, because you do TV and do a good job — you know that when there are interviews, there are edits. And there is a longer transcript,” Sekulow said. “And I will just tell you, without disclosing any detail, that when you review the entire transcript it is very clear as to what happened, and I’m not going give you information on how we provided it, but in our professional discussions with the office of the special counsel, we have addressed that on multiple occasions appropriately.”
“We think the entire transcript, without question, supports the president,” Sekulow added.
Cuomo, unfortunately, didn’t push back on the point at all.
On CNN, Trump lawyer @JaySekulow claims – w/o evidence – that Trump's infamous obstruction confession to Lester Holt was somehow doctored.
"There's actually a transcript of the entire interview…there are edits. And there's a longer transcript [that] supports the president." pic.twitter.com/C9X9gAYLtX
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) September 20, 2018
Sekulow’s evidence-free objection to the Holt interview comes less than a month after Trump claimed on Twitter that Holt “got caught fudging my tape on Russia.”
What’s going on at @CNN is happening, to different degrees, at other networks – with @NBCNews being the worst. The good news is that Andy Lack(y) is about to be fired(?) for incompetence, and much worse. When Lester Holt got caught fudging my tape on Russia, they were hurt badly!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 30, 2018
It’s unclear what the president was talking about. The extended footage of Trump’s interview with Holt — publicly available on NBC News’ YouTube page — doesn’t suggest that the footage has been edited at all.
Just over one minute into it, Trump says, without any prompting from Holt whatsoever, that with regard to the Comey firing, “when I decided to just do it I said to myself, I said, ‘You know, this Russia thing with Trump and Russia is a made-up story, it’s an excuse by the Democrats for having lost an election that they should’ve won.’”
Trump and Sekulow are pushing a bizarre lie about the Holt interview less than two months after the president, taking a page out of “1984,” advised his followers to disbelieve their senses and just listen to him.
“Don’t believe the crap you see from these people, the fake news,” Trump said, pointing at reporters as the crowd broke out in boos. “Just remember, what you’re seeing and what you’re reading is not what’s happening.”