A mainstay of the religious right is the newest member of the legal team advising Donald Trump as he faces investigation into possible collusion between his presidential campaign and the Russian government.
Jay Sekulow, who joined Trump’s team this month, is chief counsel for the American Center for Law and Justice, a far-right legal group founded by no less than Pat Robertson and based at Robertson’s Regent University in Virginia. Sekulow holds a Ph.D. from Regent and is a professor at its law school. His law degree is from another university that claims to promote “Judeo-Christian” values, Georgia’s Mercer University. He’s a frequent commentator on Robertson’s Christian Broadcasting Network and Fox News Channel.
The ACLJ has represented many anti-LGBT and antichoice clients and causes. “ACLJ’s materials are often explicitly homophobic, and their fundraising emails signed by Sekulow have warned that the homosexual agenda is ‘bent on destroying our communities’ and ‘the family as we know it,’” the Human Rights Campaign reported in a 2014 press release.
It has advocated for a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, supported sodomy laws, denounced LGBT-inclusive antibullying policies in schools, and opposed allowing openly gay leaders in the Boy Scouts, according to HRC. It has also sought to export homophobia.
“Sekulow and his son Jordan opened affiliated offices of the ACLJ in Africa to lobby politicians to ‘take the Christian’s views into consideration as they draft legislation and policies,’ according to ACLJ’s website,” Mother Jones reported in 2012, when Jay Sekolow was advising Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. “ACLJ’s Zimbabwe office has pushed an agenda that backs outlawing same-sex marriage and making sure that homosexuality ‘remain[s] a criminal activity.’” Zimbabwe has a notoriously anti-LGBT president, Robert Mugabe.
In the area of reproductive rights, the ACLJ has called for defunding Planned Parenthood and represented antichoice group Operation Rescue in challenging laws that required its members to maintain a certain distance from abortion clinics when protesting or engaging in so-called sidewalk counseling — seeking to talk clinic patrons out of having abortions, Salon reports.
Recently, even before joining Trump’s legal team, Sekulow has defended many of the president’s actions, including his leak of classified material to Russian officials. “The President is the Commander-in-Chief,” Sekulow wrote in a May 16 column on the Fox News website. “He is our president. He has the constitutional authority to share what information he deems necessary with nations and their leaders. In the case of the meetings with top Russian officials, it’s been reported that President Trump was discussing real threats from the Islamic State — ISIS — threats that President Trump understands present a clear and present danger to our country and our freedoms. His desire to communicate with the Russians in an attempt to enlist their support in battling radical Islamic jihadism should be applauded instead of attacked.”
And in a June 9 column on the site, Sekulow denounced fired FBI director James Comey as self-interested and said Trump did nothing wrong in dismissing him. When Comey testified before the Senate Intelligence Committee, “not only did Comey’s testimony clear President Trump — admitting under oath that the President was not under any investigation — his testimony unmasked Comey’s real motivation in all of this,” which was to force the appointment of a special counsel, Sekulow wrote.
In his new official role as a Trump defender, Sekulow made the rounds of the Sunday talk shows. He had a bizarre exchange with anchor Chris Wallace on his home territory of Fox News (watch below); Sekulow first said Trump was not under investigation by the Department of Justice, then said he was, before denying it again. And on CNN he claimed that Trump’s tweet stating he is under investigation was not a confirmation — Trump couldn’t fully explain the situation on Twitter because of the character limit for tweets, Sekulow said.