Trump’s new lawyer Jay Sekulow made an inauspicious debut last Sunday, defending Trump against something he had admitted to, then admitting it twice himself. Aside from being a less-than-sharp attorney, a profile of the religious conservative Sekulow has begun to emerge, and it ranges from a lack of qualifications to sketchy finances to blatant homophobia. (And the fact that he’s the frontman for a rock band that has met with underwhelming reviews.) Here are five fast facts to know.
Jay Sekulow made a widely mocked debut as Trump’s lawyer this week
Making the rounds of the Sunday morning talk shows, Sekulow insisted repeatedly that President Trump is not under criminal investigation — despite the fact that the president himself said on Twitter that he was. The reaction of CNN’s Jake Tapper became a meme. Notably, Sekulow told Fox News’ Chris Wallace twice that the president was, in fact, under investigation, before insisting that he was not, and that Wallace was putting words in his mouth. “Oh boy, this is weird,” said Wallace. (This despite the fact that Sekulow had been previously employed as a Fox News legal analyst.)
Jay Sekulow is considered unqualified to represent Trump as president
Sekulow is chief counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice (ACLJ), a Christian legal group founded by evangelist Pat Robertson. He has argued cases before the Supreme Court relating to religious freedom. However, “Sekulow is not a criminal attorney,” said Josh Marshall, editor of Talking Points Memo, this month. “He’s not a defense attorney. He’s not even an attorney with any specialty in litigating the particular legal privileges of a president. … There is literally nothing in Sekulow’s professional background – other than perhaps simply having a law degree – which would suit him to the very specific legal task of defending a sitting president from legal jeopardy.”
Jay Sekulow supports Vladimir Putin’s anti-gay agenda
The Daily Beast reported that “although ACLJ spars with Putin’s government over Christians’ rights to talk about their faith, it has publicly praised anti-blasphemy laws and laws banning ‘gay propaganda’ targeted at minors.”
In fact, he once argued against the legalization of homosexuality after the 2003 Supreme Court ruling that gay sex was not criminal. “By providing constitutional protection to same-sex sodomy, the Supreme Court strikes a damaging blow for the traditional family that will only intensify the legal battle to protect marriage and the traditional family,” he wrote.
Jay Sekulow hosts a conservative talk show and is a member of the religious right.
His daily radio talk show is broadcast on 850 stations nationwide. He is also a regular guest on the “700 Club,” Fox News, Sean Hannity’s radio show and the Christian Broadcasting Network.
Jay Sekulow’s finances are sketchy
In 2005, the Legal Times reported that Sekulow had “via interconnected nonprofit and for-profit entities, built an empire that generates millions of dollars a year and supports a lavish lifestyle.” Sekulow responded that he had “never had a blip” of financial irregularity.
In 2011, the Tennessean reported that two religious charities Sekulow founded in the ’80s paid $33 million to “members of Sekulow’s family and businesses they own or co-own” over the previous 13 years. An ACLJ spokesman said Sekulow was “one of the most successful lawyers in the country whose income is very small and [who] owns a very small home.” One of Sekulow’s nonprofits “paid a total of $2,374,833 to purchase two homes used primarily by Sekulow and his wife,” according to the Legal Times in 2005.