Sunday, June 18, 2017

Quantum Trump: In Sekulow Saeculorum

I had to use that before somebody else did.

T-Shirt by Northbound Christian Apparel.

The generally accepted interpretation being, I believe, that it's a complaint against deputy attorney general Rod Rosenstein, who wrote that memo in an all-nighter from May 8 to 9 after (according to Rosenstein) Trump informed him that he was planning to fire the FBI director James Comey and asked Rosenstein for "advice and input". That is, he didn't tell Trump to fire the FBI director ("I accepted their recommendation"), unless of course he did ("I was going to fire regardless of recommendation"). Thus, if Rosenstein were to be investigating Trump now (which he isn't, he is at most responsible for greenlighting special counsel Robert Mueller's investigation, if there is one) for firing Comey (which would be a less important fact in the question of Trump's possible obstruction of justice than his repeated requests to Comey to go easy on Flynn, to make a public announcement that he wasn't investigating Trump, and to make the "cloud" go away), that would be pretty ironic, huh?

To which Jay Sekulow, a new member of the Trump personal legal team, now explains on Fox News, no, that wasn't what the Tweet was about:
That tweet, Chris, was in response to The Washington Post story that alleged that five unnamed sources, anonymous sources, leaked to The Washington Post that the president was, in fact, under investigation. So that tweet was in response to that. There’s been no notification of an investigation. Nothing’s changed since James Comey said the president was not a target or subject of investigation. Nothing’s changed.
So Trump was being sarcastic maybe? "Sure, Washington Post, pull the other one!" He was simply producing an inaccurate summary of the Post story to show how inaccurate it would have been if that had indeed been the story they ran, which it wasn't?

Another possibility comes up later in the interview, in the passage for which Sekulow has been much criticized for saying that Trump is under investigation, after repeatedly denying that he's under investigation:
Here's what -- what is the legal situation here. There is a constitutional issue when you have this scenario. The president made a determination based on consult of advice. He decided ultimately. He’s the commander in chief. He gets to make that decision that James Comey had a go. That was coming, by the way, from groups right, left, and center over the last year. You -- you and I know that. So there had been concern about James Comey.
It was put forward in a memorandum -- that's what the president's referencing -- from the deputy attorney general and the attorney general requesting the removal of James Comey as the FBI director. And, ultimately, that's the president's determination.
So here's the constitutional threshold question, Chris. The president takes action based on numerous events, including recommendations from his attorney general and the deputy attorney general’s office. He takes the action that they also, by the way, recommended. And now he's being investigated by the Department of Justice because the special counsel under the special counsel relations reports still to the Department of Justice. Not an independent counsel. So he's being investigated for taking the action that the attorney general and deputy attorney general recommended him to take by the agency who recommended the termination. So that's the constitutional threshold question here. That’s why, as I said, no investigation --
WALLACE: Well, I -- what -- what -- what's the question (INAUDIBLE). I mean you -- you stated -- you stated some facts. First of all, you’ve now said that he is getting investigated after saying that you didn’t.
WALLACE: You -- you just, sir, that he’s being --
SEKULOW: No, he's not being investigated!
When he said Trump was being investigated, he only meant in the constitutional question in the scenario that you have. That is to say, the investigation is taking place, or not taking place, inside a Schrödinger catbox, depending on the behavior of a quantum particle that is being emitted or not emitted by a radioactive atom. That's all very clear, right? You can talk about what's happening in the possible universe where he's being investigated, and the one where he isn't, without being accused of making stuff up.

But the safest way of talking about it is to say you don't know (or you haven't been formally notified, in the Louise Mensch world where anybody being investigated by the special counsel gets a visit from a special Messenger of Death, because in our ordinary mundane world investigators almost never tell you you're being investigated until it's too late for you to start evasive action, because they don't want you to get away—it seems very weird for Sekulow to keep suggesting that "there's been no notification" means there is no investigation).

But from a strict quantum physics point of view, Trump is being investigated and not investigated at the same time, and that's why Sekulow's language, and Trump's tweet, seem a little complicated.

Cross-posted at The Rectification of Names. For a less wacky view of the Sekulow interview see this Seth Abramson thread.

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