Earlier this morning, Trump’s lawyer Jay Sekulow floated the defense that if there was anything wrong with Trump Junior’s meeting with the Russians, then the Secret Service would have stepped in and prevented it. From Talking Points Memo:
“I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in,” Sekulow said on ABC’s “This Week,” referring to Trump’s protection detail as the Republican candidate. “The President had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me.”
Shortly after, in response to a question posed by Reuters, a spokesman for the Secret Service denied that Donald Trump Junior was under their protection at the time:
In an emailed response to questions about Sekulow's comments, Secret Service spokesman Mason Brayman said the younger Trump was not under Secret Service protection at the time of the meeting, which included Trump's son and two senior campaign officials.
"Donald Trump, Jr. was not a protectee of the USSS in June, 2016. Thus we would not have screened anyone he was meeting with at that time," the statement said.
Since we are so used to Trump and team lying, this denial doesn’t come as a big surprise on the surface. Team Trump lied. Again. Move along. But wait, not so fast. Let’s consider this further because something doesn’t add up.
Let’s assume that Trump and team are sitting around trying to come up with cover stories for Junior’s meeting. Someone says: “The Secret Service was at the meeting, and they are supposed to prevent bad things from happening. So, if they let the meeting happen, then the meeting couldn’t have been bad.” That’s brilliant, they all agree, congratulating themselves on their brilliant logical reasoning. So they send out the yes-man lawyer, Jay Sekulow, to pitch this on the Sunday morning political shows.
But, they didn’t bother to check whether the Secret Service was supposed to be at the meeting, given the publicly known set of attendees. They didn’t anticipate that the Secret Service would quickly come out and say that Don Junior wasn’t under their protection. They also didn’t anticipate that Secret Service, while denying that they were protecting Junior, would not deny they were at the meeting.
So if the Secret Service was at the meeting, then who were they protecting? Paul Manafort? Jared Kushner? If they weren’t protecting the son of Donald Trump, then why would they be protecting his son-in-law or his campaign manager. Surely they weren’t there to protect the Russians.
The only reason the Secret Service would have been at that meeting is if Donald Trump himself was at the meeting, since he was under Secret Service protection at the time, as Sekulow himself pointed out. And even though the Secret Service didn’t confirm they were there, they didn’t deny it. And the whole premise of Sekulow’s argument is that the meeting was under Secret Service control, so they must have been there protecting the one man who was a protectee of the USSS at the time: Donald J Trump.
Did Trump’s lawyer just publicly confirm, with help from the Secret Service, that Donald Trump was present at the Russia collusion meeting? I don’t see how it can be otherwise.