Jay Sekulow has had a lively debut as a member of President Donald Trump’s personal legal team.
On June 11, the Washington attorney and conservative television figure went on ABC’s “This Week” talk show and refused to rule out the possibility that the president would fire the special counsel overseeing the criminal probe of the Trump campaign and Russia’s interference in the 2016 election. A week later, Sekulow appeared on four Sunday shows, vociferously denying that the president is himself under investigation—a direct contradiction of his boss’s June 16 post on Twitter, in which Trump said, “I am being investigated.”
“Oh, boy, this is weird,” said Chris Wallace, host of “Fox News Sunday,” as he tried to follow Sekulow’s verbal back-flips.
What may be even more weird is that Sekulow is on Trump’s legal team at all. The 61-year-old lawyer has an unusual professional and personal profile—one that doesn’t include experience with white-collar criminal cases, which would seem to be what Trump needs at the moment.
Sekulow formerly served as the general counsel for the organization Jews for Jesus. In the late 1980s, he became the leading U.S. Supreme Court advocate for the Christian right. While appearing regularly on Fox television as a legal analyst and hosting a syndicated radio show, he also runs interlocking Christian nonprofits that raise tens of millions of dollars a year and employ several members of his family.
Asked about Sekulow’s qualifications, Mark Corallo, a spokesman for Trump’s outside legal team, didn’t directly answer the question. “Jay is a member of the president’s legal team in the fullest sense of the word,” Corallo said. “He is also authorized to speak on television or otherwise.” Corallo said he didn’t know how Trump came to hire Sekulow. The spokesman didn’t respond to questions about the Sekulow nonprofits.
Trump’s defense team continues to be led by Marc Kasowitz, a New York attorney who has a long history of representing the president in business and personal disputes, but not criminal (let alone high-stakes Washington) matters. Another member of the group is John Dowd, who possesses the Washington white-collar chops that Kasowitz and Sekulow lack. Dowd represented Senator John McCain in the early-’90s “Keating Five” scandal in which the Arizona Republican was eventually exonerated of charges that he met with bank regulators at the behest of a contributor.
SOURCE: Paul Barrett