Although media reports might confuse you, Donald Trump is not currently under investigation by the Justice Department. He is not under investigation for ties to Russia, he is not under investigation for firing FBI Director James Comey, and he is not under investigation for obstruction of justice. Why do media reports paint a dramatically different picture? Where do they get the impression that Trump is under investigation, and why do they pass this interpretation onto the public?
Take a look at any mainstream media newspaper or website and you’ll be lambasted with headlines that imply that Donald Trump is under investigation, and may even be near impeachment. Let’s look at one example. “Trump Campaign Aides Had Repeated Contacts With Russian Intelligence,” reads one New York Times headline from February. The headline and the story are still up, with no retraction, correction, or even addendum from the Times. But during James Comey’s senate hearing two weeks ago, a senator asked Comey if it “would be fair to characterize [the story] as almost entirely wrong.”
Comey answered that the Times’ story was false.
“In the main, it was not true.”
What is going on here? Why does the Times report something that the former FBI Director says is fake? It’s important to look at where they get their sources. The Times article says, “current and former American officials.” We don’t know who these people are, or what their position in government is. To get the facts, it’s better to listen to the head of the FBI than to an anonymous, unnamed source. Following Comey’s remarks, the Times said their “original sources could not immediately be reached.”
During the Comey hearing, he confirmed multiple times that Trump was never under investigation. He told this to President Trump personally before he was fired, and he confirmed it again in front of the Senate at the hearing.
What is being investigated is whether and how Russia may have influenced the U.S. election, but this is an important distinction. Trump and Russia are not the same thing — a fact lost on the media, but not national security investigators.
Recently, a Washington Post article caused another stir. The headline reads, “Special counsel is investigating Trump for possible obstruction of justice, officials say.” The article even features a graph titled “A guide to the five major investigations of the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia.” First of all, the obstruction of justice assertion came from James Comey’s testimony in front of the senate, when he said that Trump used the word “hope” regarding Michael Flynn. Although media pundits have argued that this was Trump’s attempt to persuade Comey, and whether or not you think Trump was trying to influence the investigation or not, Trump isn’t being investigated for obstruction of justice. It is simply some people’s opinion that Trump overstepped the bounds of propriety in the conversation. But an official investigation regarding obstruction of justice does not exist.
So where does the Washington Post get this assertion, strong enough to put in a headline?
“The obstruction-of-justice investigation of the president began days after Comey was fired on May 9, according to people familiar with the matter.”
This begs the question, who are these people? Where is the Washington Post getting this information? Is Trump under investigation, or not?
If Trump is under investigation, the prosecution team will request documents and interviews to use as evidence for their case. There is also typically a notice of investigation. Today, Trump’s lawyer, Jay Sekulow, spoke to the press to help clear up the issue.
“The president is not under investigation by the special counsel.”
At this point, we are in a he-said, she-said argument, and the players are Trump’s team, the special counsel, the former FBI director, government officials, and security agencies against anonymous sources reporting for the Washington Post and New York Times. If the special counsel probe turns up evidence that Trump’s team tried to obstruct justice or has ties to Russia, they will investigate it — but as of now, there isn’t any evidence to support that. As of now, Trump is not under investigation.
[Featured Image by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images]