Trials & Litigation

What's all this I hear about lawyer lawsuits? Trump lawyer Sekulow may have misheard 'FOIA lawsuits'

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Jay Sekulow

Jay Sekulow in 2012. Photo by Mark Taylor via Wikimedia Commons.

An impeachment defense lawyer for President Donald Trump appeared incensed at the suggestion that Democrats didn't want to delay impeachment by pursuing “lawyer lawsuits” to obtain information.

Some were puzzled by the remarks on Tuesday by defense lawyer Jay Sekulow because the phrase “lawyer lawsuits” had not been mentioned, report the Washington Post and New York Magazine.

There was a reference to “FOIA lawsuits,” however, by U.S. Rep. Val Demings, D-Fla., when she explained why Democrats had not sought or awaited additional evidence in court.

Demings said the president’s lawyers may suggest that the House “should have sought these materials in court or awaited further lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act, aka FOIA lawsuits. Any such suggestion is meritless. To start, the Constitution has never been understood to require such lawsuits. It’s never occurred in any previous impeachment.”

Demings added that “FOIA lawsuits filed by third parties cannot serve as a credible alternative to congressional oversight.”

Sekulow seized on the never-spoken phrase “lawyer lawsuits” in his response.

“Lawyer lawsuits? We’re talking about the impeachment of a president of the United States, duly elected, and the members, the managers, are complaining about lawyer lawsuits?” Sekulow said. “The Constitution allows lawyer lawsuits.”

Sekulow went on to argue that communications by presidential advisers preparing advice for the president are protected by the presidential communications privilege, as are communications received by the advisers. Sekulow then circled back to lawyer lawsuits.

“Lawsuits. The Constitution. A dangerous moment for America when an impeachment of a president of the United States is being rushed through because of lawyer lawsuits,” he said. “The Constitution allows it, if necessary. The Constitution demands it, if necessary.”

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