Jay Sekulow’s bizarre debut: Donald Trump picked a lawyer he saw on Fox News and it isn’t going well

Jay Sekulow, Chief Counsel American Center for Law and Justice, testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 6, 2014, before the House subcommittee on Economic Growth, Job Creation hearing to investigate the Justice Department's investigation into the IRS abuse scandal. For months, congressional Republicans have been asking about a criminal investigation into the Internal Revenue Service targeting tea party and other conservative groups when they applied for tax-exempt status. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Last week, the Washington Post dropped one of the biggest bombshells of the Russia scandal to date when it published a story with five different sources saying that that special counsel Robert Mueller was looking into President Donald Trumps actions with respect to the firing of former FBI Director James Comey. The sources were anonymous so the White House could have easily made no comment and let its outside surrogates construct some alternative facts, if only to buy some time.

Then the president, up in the middle of the night probably obsessively watching the shows on his TiVo took to Twitter to admit that he was under investigation and seemed to blame it on the deputy attorney general, Rod Rosenstein. By confirming the investigation, Trump moved the story along substantially for no good reason. But thats him. He is congenitally unable to keep his cool.

It had been widely reported that Trump was unable to hire any of the top law firms to represent him because they believed he was likely to shoot his mouth off against their advice. According to Yahoo News one lawyer said the concerns were: The guy wont pay and he wont listen. So after Comeys last public testimony, Trump unleashed his longtime private lawyer Marc Kasowitz to rebut the charges and it wasnt a smooth performance.

The president apparently decided he needed someone with a little bit more experience in Washington. Since all the A-list defense attorneys were unavailable to come to the presidents defense he had to turn to the right-wing fever swamps and a man named Jay Sekulow, a familiar presence to viewers of Fox News.

Its a bit unexpected for Sekulow to work for a president with a reputation as a crude libertine who clearly lacks any sincere commitment to religion and traditional values. Sekulow is best known for his work at the American Center for Law and Justice, the Christian conservatives answer to the ACLU, which Rev. Pat Robertson founded back in 1990.

The ACLJ is known in recent years for its work against gay marriage but it has been fighting at the front of every culture war battle of the last 27 years. Sekulow has argued some of its most important school prayer and abortion-clinic protest cases before the Supreme Court, and even represented the notorious anti-abortion organization Operation Rescue in a famous case which determined that the RICO Act used to prosecute organized crime could not be used against anti-abortion protesters.

Sekulow and the ACLJ have been heavily involved in the Christian rights odious project to criminalize homosexuality in Africa. Mother Jones reported on this back in 2012:

Their agenda includes ensuring that abortion is banned as well.

Why would Donald Trump hire a right-wing First Amendment lawyer rather than a defense attorney? Well, its obviously because Sekulow is a legal analyst for Fox News, which Trump watches obsessively. He likely saw Sekulow defend him on TV one night and decided hed be a good defense lawyer.

So far, thats not going too well. Sekulow made the rounds on all the Sunday talk shows (a feat known as the full Ginsburg after Monica Lewinskys attorney, William Ginsburg, who hit all the shows in one famous blitz at the height of that scandal.) He insisted to anyone who would listen that despite the presidents tweeting that he was under investigation, he was really only responding to the news report and isnt under investigation at all.

It didnt make much sense, but Sekulow sounded highly confident in his assertion until he came to his home network, Fox News, to appear on Chris Wallaces show. Thats when things fell apart. Wallace asked why, if the president isnt under investigation, he would go after Rosenstein, describing the situation as a witch hunt. Sekulow lost his poise, and began explaining that Trump had taken the advice of the attorney general and his deputy, and now the Department of Justice is investigating him. Wallace called him on it, and they had a spirited back and forth in which Wallace insisted that Sekulow had said what wed just heard him say: Wallace: Well, but you dont know that he isnt under investigation now, do you? Sekulow: Well, no ones notified us that he is. So I I cant read peoples minds, but I can tell you this, we have not been notified that theres an investigation to the president of the United States. So that nothing has changed in that regard since James Comeys testimony. Wallace: Well, you dont know that hes not under investigation again, sir. I mean you might Sekulow: You know, I cant read the mind youre right, Chris, I cant read the minds of the special prosecutor. Wallace ended the segment with You dont know. Oh boy, this is weird. You just told us that you didnt know. You can see the whole exchange here: Wallace: You’ve now said he’ is being investigated after saying he wasn’t.

Sekulow: No.

Wallace: You JUST said he’s being investigated. pic.twitter.com/KCXULFEXqM Its not all that surprising that Trump would end up with a lawyer like Sekulow. But why is Sekulow doing this for Trump? Hes a religiou-right guy and while he undoubtedly voted for Trump, as did millions of other conservative Christians, the president seems an odd cause for him to take up. But they may have more in common than seems obvious at first blush. According to Right Wing Watch, which has been tracking Sekulow for years, they have a similar approach to making money: Several years ago, Tony Mauro wrote an article for The Legal Times entitled The Secrets of Jay Sekulow which examined how through the ACLJ and a string of interconnected nonprofit and for-profit entities, [Sekulow] has built a financial empire that generates millions of dollars a year and supports a lavish lifestyle complete with multiple homes, chauffeur-driven cars, and a private jet that he once used to ferry Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Sekulow runs two multimillion-dollar nonprofits, the Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism and the ACLJ. His wife, brother, sister-in-law and two sons dominate the boards of both organizations, collecting millions of dollars through complicated legal structures. Its a highly lucrative nepotistic empire, not unlike the Trump Organization and the current White House. These two men sell different products, but they are cut from the same cloth.

Read more at: www.salon.com

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