The drama surrounding Donald Trump Jr.'s Russia meeting continues to unfold, and on Sunday, President Trump's attorney Jay Sekulow weighed in on the matter. But although he was attempting to defend his client, Trump's lawyer ended up creating a conspiracy theory that, at the very least, doesn't make this situation any better for Trump Jr. or the president.
In an interview about Trump Jr.'s meeting with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya, Sekulow suggested that nothing was amiss because if there was, the Secret Service would have prevented it from happening. "I wonder why the Secret Service, if this was nefarious, why the Secret Service allowed these people in [to the meeting]," Sekulow said on Sunday's This Week. "The President had Secret Service protection at that point, and that raised a question with me."
The problem is that in June 2016, when the meeting took place, the only person in the Trump family who had Secret Service protection was the candidate himself. For some people, this raised the question of why, as Sekulow implied, the Secret Service would have been protecting that meeting and its attendees, unless Trump himself was there.
Sekulow flatly denied this, telling This Week that "the President was not aware of the meeting and did not participate in it."
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.
Some interpreted Sekulow's comment as an indication that perhaps, Trump either did attend the meeting or was planning on doing so. "Unless the Secret Service thought that the senior Trump or Vladimir Putin himself was going to be at or very near the meeting, Sekulow's claim that the Secret Service 'allowed' the Russians in is what raises the real questions," wrote Josh Israel at ThinkProgress.
Sekulow's remarks also raised questions because the Secret Service isn't an all-purpose law enforcement agency, and thus wouldn't be in a position to halt a meeting just because something "nefarious," in Sekulow's words, was going on at it. Under U.S. law, the Secret Service has two jobs: providing security for high-profile political figures (presidents, former presidents, foreign dignitaries, etc) and, oddly enough, investigating and preventing the spread of counterfeit currency and other financial crimes.
Nothing that allegedly happened at the Trump Jr. meeting falls into either of those categories. Unless Trump himself was in attendance, or expected to be, there simply isn't any compelling reason to think the Secret Service would have had any involvement with the meeting at all.