Ga. lawyer with medieval history Ph.D. to join Trump legal team
A Georgia prosecutor with a doctorate in medieval history is preparing for battle as a prominent member of President Trump’s legal team.
Andrew Ekonomou, 69, an assistant district attorney in Brunswick, Ga., has been helping Trump attorney Jay Sekulow handle the ongoing Russia probe and will have a more prominent role on the team going forward following the departure of lead lawyer John Dowd last week.
Ekonomou is a “brilliant strategist” who had been involved in complex investigations for years, Sekulow told Reuters.
The pair have known one another for decades and Ekonomou assisted Sekulow in the 1980s on a famous case involving the religious group Jews for Jesus before the Supreme Court.
Ekonomou told Reuters that since then he has prosecuted “a lot of murders for the D.A.”
When asked about his biggest recent cases, Ekonomou said, “That’s basically it. Nothing earthshaking.”
On Sunday, Trump tweeted that “(m)any lawyers and top law firms want to represent me in the Russia case.”
But Ekonomou doesn’t exactly have the white collar pedigree associated with representing a President in a possible criminal probe.
He spent several years in charge of the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Atlanta and briefly served as acting U.S. Attorney in 1982.
He is closely affiliated with the American Center for Law and Justice, a religious freedom group that counts Sekulow as its chief counsel.
Ekonomou told Reuters that a “mid-life crisis” led him to go back to school and get his doctorate in medieval history at Emory University in 2000.
He penned a scholarly book titled “Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes” in 2007 about Rome and the Papacy following the Justinian Reconquest of Italy in the middle of the sixth century.
Ekonomou said his outsider status only bolsters his ability to defend Trump, noting that he has practiced law for more than four decades.
“I’ve been tested plenty of times,” Ekonomou said. “Just because you’re not a Beltway lawyer doesn’t mean you don’t know what you’re doing.”
Trump has been rebuffed by a series of top-tier attorneys in the days since Dowd’s abrupt exit.
On Monday, Chicago-based lawyer Dan Webb, said business conflicts prevented his joining the Trump team.
Last week “legal superstar” Theodore Olson, the solicitor general for George W. Bush, reportedly turned down an opportunity to join the team.
Dowd’s leave was quickly followed by husband-and-wife team Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing also bowing out of representing the President.
The attorney upheaval comes at a critical time for special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe.
Dowd reportedly resigned in frustration over Trump’s unwillingness to heed his legal advice.
Investigators are reportedly looking deeper into the Trump Organization’s finances and are ready to question the President about a number of topics.
The President has also aggressively ramped up his offensives on the Mueller probe, which is looking at Russian election meddling and possible coordination between Trump’s campaign and the Kremlin.
Trump has spent recent weeks railing against the investigation, accusing Mueller of stacking his team with political opponents out to bring down his administration.