Jay Sekulow, Donald Trump’s lawyer on the Trump investigation, compared the president’s apparent attempt to shut down the investigation into his national security adviser with efforts of protect the civil rights movement in the 1960s from illegal spying.
On ABC’s This Week on Sunday, host George Stephanopoulous asked Sekulow about the recent reports that Trump knew Michael Flynn was under investigation as he pushed then-FBI director James Comey to go easy on him. Sekulow responded with a bizarre analogy, comparing Flynn — who pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI — with Martin Luther King Jr.
“Are you suggesting it wouldn’t be a problem if the president pressured James Comey to let the criminal investigation go, after knowing that Michael Flynn was under criminal investigation?” Stephanopoulos asked.
“There was [sic] investigations going on on Martin Luther King Jr.,” Sekulow responded. “Do you think if President Kennedy had gone to J. Edgar Hoover and said, ‘Hey, stop that,’ that that would have been an obstruction of justice claim? Of course not!”
The analogy fails on every level. First of all, Martin Luther King Jr. was being illegally spied on and attacked by Hoover’s FBI as part of its Counterintelligence Program (COINTELPRO) efforts to disrupt the Communist Party of the United States, of which King was not a member. Kennedy did not rein in Hoover, nor did his brother, Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy. The FBI’s own website now notes that the entire COINTELPRO “was later rightfully criticized by Congress and the American people for abridging first amendment rights and for other reasons.” The FBI’s investigation into Flynn is hardly analogous, especially given his ultimate guilty plea.
Moreover, Martin Luther King Jr. was not a Kennedy appointee or surrogate, and his actions would not have potentially implicated JFK in any wrongdoing. Michael Flynn’s ties to Russia, which Trump’s administration dismissed, could well indicate the very collusion that Trump denies in tweet after tweet.
In the same interview, Sekulow acknowledged that he had falsely claimed in a previous This Week appearance that Trump had had no role in the creation of Donald Trump Jr.’s statement about his meeting with a Russian operative offering the campaign dirt on Hillary Clinton. Trump, in fact, dictated that memo.