Sekulow: Disagreeing with Trump on Whose Advice to Take Is Not an Impeachable Offense

By Melanie Arter | January 25, 2020 | 4:35pm EST
(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
(Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)

( - Just because House impeachment manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) disagrees with President Donald Trump’s decisions on foreign policy matters and on whether he takes the advice of the intelligence community on Russian interference in the 2016 election does not mean he deserves to be impeached, Trump’s personal lawyer Jay Sekulow said Saturday.

Speaking on the Senate floor during the Senate impeachment trial, Sekulow said, “In his summation on Thursday night, Manager Schiff complained that the president chose not to go with the determination of intelligence agencies regarding foreign interference and decided that he would listen to people he trusted, and he would inquire about the Ukraine issue himself.


“Mr. Schiff did not like the fact that the president did not apparently blindly trust some of the advice he was being given by the intelligence agencies. First of all, let me be clear: disagreeing with the president's decision on foreign policy matters or whose advice he is going to take is in no way an impeachable offense,” he said.

Sekulow noted that in December the FISA court “issued a scathing order in response to the Justice Department inspector general's report on the FBI’s Crossfire Hurricane investigation into whether or not the Trump campaign was coordinating with Russia.” 

“We already know the conclusion. That report detailed the FBI's patterned practice, systematic abuses of obtaining surveillance order requests and the process they utilized. In its order, this is the order from the court,” he said. 

“‘This order responds to reports that personnel at the Federal Bureau of Investigation provided false information to the National Security Division of the Department of Justice, and withheld material information from the NSD, which was deferential to the FBI's case in connection with four applications to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance court,’” the order said, according to Sekulow.

“When the FBI personnel misled NSD in the ways that are described in these reports, they equally misled the foreign intelligence surveillance court,” he said.

Sekulow also noted that the DOJ this week found that the FBI misled the DOJ’s National Security Division (NSD) in its FISA applications to conduct surveillance on former Trump adviser Carter Page.

“This order’s been followed up,” Sekulow said. “There’s been another order. It was declassified just a couple days ago:

“‘Thanks in large part,’ the court said, ‘to the Office of Inspector General’s U.S. Department of Justice, the court has received notice of material misstatements and omissions in applications filed by the government in the above captioned documents, DOJ assesses that with respect to the applications,’ and it lists two specific docket numbers, 17375, and 17679, if not earlier. ‘There was insufficient predication to establish probable cause to believe that Carter Page was acting as an agent of a foreign power.’”

“‘The president had reason to be concerned about the information he was being provided. Now we could ignore this. We could make believe this did not happen, but it did,” Sekulow said.

“Mr. Schiff and his colleagues told you the intelligence community assessment, Russia was acting alone, responsible for election interference implying this debunked the idea there might be interference from other countries including Ukraine,” he said.

“Mr. Nadler deployed an argument saying Donald Trump thought, ‘Ukraine, not Russia, interfered in the last presidential election.’ This is basically what we call a straw man argument,” Sekulow said.

“Let me be clear. The House managers in over a 23-hour period kept pushing this false dichotomy that it was either Russia or Ukraine, but not both. They kept telling you the conclusion of the intelligence community and Mr. Mueller was Russia alone with regard to the 2016 elections,” he added.

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