Jun 19, 2017

Meet Jay Sekulow, Trump's TV lawyer

Steve Helber / AP

Jay Sekulow, a member of President Trump's legal team, raised eyebrows Sunday as he hopped from network to network defending Trump against reports that he's under investigation for obstruction of justice, until he fumbled while being interrogated by Fox News' Chris Wallace, and admitted he doesn't know for sure what Special Prosecutor Robert Mueller is investigating.

That misstep was not due to inexperience on TV — Sekulow regularly appears as a legal analyst on Fox News Channel, The 700 Club, and Sean Hannity's radio show. Sekulow has grown famous for his work with the religious-right, such as in his defense of the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ).

Expect to see a lot more of Sekulow, who has essentially stood in for members of the administration on the Sunday shows for two weeks running.

Guided by religion: Sekulow is a devout Christian whose work reflects his religious beliefs, as seen in the cases he's taken up with the ACLJ, including backing their stances against gay marriage and abortion.

Runs two multimillion nonprofits with his family, the Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism and the ACLJ. As Salon's Heather Digby Parton points out, Sekulow's wife, brother, sons and sister-in-law "dominate the boards of both organizations" in an arrangement not dissimilar from how Trump ran his business and, to a lesser extent, the White House.

Fervent Trump supporter: The Washington Post's Derek Hawkins writes, "Using language popular on the political far right, he has warned repeatedly of a 'deep state bureaucracy' out to sabotage the presidency and a 'shadow government' led by none other than former FBI director James B. Comey, fired last month by Trump. In May, Sekulow dismissed the Russia scandal as 'a fraud on the American people.'" Sekulow has also personally known Trump for years.

Why he's representing Trump: "If the president of the United States asks you for legal advice and you're a lawyer and you're serving your country and the Constitution, you do it," Sekulow said on his radio show earlier this month. "This was an opportunity that opened up and we wanted to take advantage of it in order to make sure the Constitution is fulfilled. This is an attack on the presidency. That's what this is."

Why he's on TV: As Axios' Jonathan Swan reported earlier this month, Trump's lead lawyer on the Russia probe, Marc Kasowitz, is not viewed as good media talent, and Trump thinks Sekulow does a good job defending him on TV.

Go deeper

Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 5,432,512 — Total deaths: 345,375 — Total recoveries — 2,182,202Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina.
  4. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

Subscribe to Mike Allen's Axios AM to follow our coronavirus coverage each morning from your inbox.

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy