WASHINGTON — Jay Sekulow, who will lead President Trump’s impeachment defense team with Pat A. Cipollone, is one of Mr. Trump’s longest-serving personal lawyers, an achievement in itself as the legal team’s revolving door spins wildly.
Mr. Sekulow, 63, coordinates the work of eight lawyers from a cooperative working space a few blocks from the White House, under the name Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group.
He is a conservative media personality with deep ties to the evangelical community, a critical part of Mr. Trump’s base. But Mr. Sekulow does not possess extensive experience in the proceedings that Mr. Trump will face in the Senate.
“Jay is not a criminal lawyer, and he’s not even a checks-and-balances constitutional lawyer,” said Paul Rosenzweig, who was senior counsel to Ken Starr for the Whitewater investigation during the Clinton administration. “But he’s been at it for two years, so maybe he’s got more experience in defending this president than anybody.”
Mr. Sekulow is a frequent presence on Fox News and on Christian television. He has his own daily radio show, “Jay Sekulow Live,” on which he and his son Jordan Sekulow, who works in Mr. Sekulow’s legal firm, defend and flatter Mr. Trump and echo White House talking points on impeachment.
Jay Sekulow was born in Brooklyn and grew up on Long Island and in Atlanta. His New York roots contribute to his rapport with Mr. Trump, who is said to view him as a no-nonsense sounding board. Once an observant Jew, Mr. Sekulow embraced Christianity after exploring the Bible while attending Atlanta Baptist College, today known as Mercer University, where he also attended law school.
Mr. Sekulow opened a law firm in Atlanta with Mercer classmates and his brother Gary Sekulow. Soon after, he went into business renovating and flipping historic properties, at the time a popular tax shelter for the wealthy.
The venture imploded in 1986. Sued for fraud and securities violations, Mr. Sekulow, his brother, father, law partner and other associates declared bankruptcy and left a trail of unpaid debts.
Mr. Sekulow swiftly reinvented himself as a litigator for the Christian right, funded by televangelists and donations they solicited for him and his faith-based advocacy group, Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, or CASE. In 1990, the televangelist Pat Robertson hired Mr. Sekulow as chief counsel for the American Center for Law & Justice, a group founded in opposition to the American Civil Liberties Union.
Mr. Sekulow won a string of Supreme Court cases in the late 1980s and 1990s by arguing that bans on various forms of religious expression in public places violated the practitioners’ right to free speech.
After Mr. Trump was elected, the president’s adviser Stephen K. Bannon recommended the hiring of Mr. Sekulow to help guide Mr. Trump’s legal response to the investigation of the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III.
Mr. Sekulow works for the president while continuing to run his law firm and Christian advocacy group.
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