Donald Trump says he is under investigation. Donald Trump’s lawyer says, no, he isn’t.
Oh, great! This early in the Russian-hacking probe, we’ve already hit the moment where the president starts twisting the meaning of “is” and “isn’t.” Back in the 1990s, the Monica Lewinsky decade, that took years for Bill Clinton to get around to.
Trump’s momentous assertion came in a tweet, of course. That’s how most of his momentous assertions arrive. He picked up his phone at 9:08 Friday morning – Trump Daylight Time – and started typing: “I am being investigated for firing the FBI Director by the man who told me to fire the FBI Director! Witch Hunt.”
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We can debate whether Deputy Attorney General Ron Rosenstein deserves the dis. Was he really the one who got the jumpy president to oust FBI Director James Comey? Trump made that bright move all by himself, he told NBC’s Lester Holt. But after the tweet, can there be any doubt that the Russia-coddling prez is now squarely in the sights of special counsel Robert Mueller?
Sure, there can be. We’re in Trumpville now.
Where “is” and “isn’t” are often fluid concepts.
Where words don’t always mean what they say.
Where today’s presidential assertions are tomorrow’s fake news.
So yesterday, here was one of the president’s new lawyers, Jay Sekulow, telling Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday” that “the president is not and has not been under investigation.” Saying he wanted to be “crystal clear” that Trump’s legal team is “not aware of any investigation.”
Added the lawyer: “The tweet came on the heels of a Washington Post story that had five anonymous sources.”
“Oh, boy, this is weird,” Wallace finally shot back after several rounds of “is” and “isn’t” back-and-forth. “You don’t know whether there’s an investigation.”
So, what do we know?
As the lawyer and president struggle to get their stories straight, Democrat Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee warned that the special counsel is “only getting started.” Senate Intel’s Angus King said he figures the various probes are “20 percent” done.
There is one thing we know for certain, however far along we are: Mueller isn’t close to finished, whatever the meaning of is is.
Metro columnist Ellis Henican is a veteran journalist, best-selling author and frequent commentator on CNN and other TV networks. Follow him on Twitter @henican.