By Pam Martens and Russ Martens: December 7, 2017
A lawyer who is part of President Donald Trump’s legal defense team, Jay Sekulow, has denied the news reports that Deutsche Bank has received a subpoena from Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s office for banking records related to Trump and his family members.
In a statement to Reuters, Sekulow stated:
“We have confirmed that the news reports that the Special Counsel had subpoenaed financial records relating to the president are false. No subpoena has been issued or received. We have confirmed this with the bank and other sources.”
But in the same article that relayed that statement from Sekulow, Reuters’ reporters Arno Schuetze and Karen Freifeld undercut the credibility of Sekulow’s statement by writing the following:
“A U.S. federal investigator probing alleged Russian interference in the 2016 U.S. presidential election asked Deutsche Bank for data on accounts held by President Donald Trump and his family, a person close to the matter said on Tuesday, but Trump’s lawyer denied any such subpoena had been issued.”
The German newspaper, Handelsblatt, which broke the original story on the Deutsche Bank subpoena, shot back with this headline yesterday: “Yes, Deutsche Bank did get a subpoena from Mueller,” adding the following:
“According to our information, the subpoena from Mr. Mueller, who is investigating Russian meddling in the 2016 US elections, is in connection with Mr. Trump’s camp, requiring the bank to provide information on financial transactions and loans. It remains unclear whether the subpoena relates to the US president personally or a family member. Given that qualification, we are standing by our reporting.”
Sekulow is not the most credible legal voice to be speaking for President Trump. In June, comedians ridiculed Sekulow for his flip flops on Sunday talk shows on whether the President was or was not under investigation by the Special Counsel. During Sekulow’s appearance on Fox News, he first told Chris Wallace that the President was not under investigation, only to minutes later state that Trump was under investigation. (See the bizarre video clip below.)
Long before Trump ever emerged as a candidate for President, Sekulow had come under the investigative cross-hairs of Wall Street On Parade. In May 2013 we published a two-part investigative article on Sekulow, writing in Part One the following:
“Jay Sekulow will never be accused of a lack of audacity. The man who has orchestrated and pumped the ‘scandal’ that the IRS was unfairly targeting nonprofits tied to the Tea Party, is the same man who filed 27 applications with the IRS in recent years seeking tax-exempt status for Tea Party and related groups. He’s also the man who together with family and business interests have reaped at least $40 million since 1998 from a tangled web of IRS approved nonprofits with eye-popping conflicts of interest.”
Two nonprofits stand out particularly in that tangled web: American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) and Christian Advocates Serving Evangelism, Inc. (CASE). In our Part One report, we detailed the following:
“The 2011 tax return for CASE, publicly available at GuideStar.org, shows that in just the two-year period of 2010 and 2011, the nonprofit took in over $81 million. The charity is structured as a 501(c)(3), meaning that both its income is tax exempt and donations made to it are tax deductible – a big tax subsidy from the U.S. taxpayer.
“Jay Sekulow is the President of CASE and his family fills four of the five slots on the Board of Directors. His wife, Pam, is the Secretary; his two sons, Jordan and Logan, are Directors; his brother, Gary, is the Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer.
“Gary Sekulow is both the CFO of CASE as well as Vice President of Finance at ACLJ. In 2011, Gary Sekulow’s compensation from the two totaled $557,787. The 2011 tax return for the ACLJ shows Jay Sekulow receiving zero in ‘reportable compensation’ and zero in ‘reportable compensation from related organizations.’ That seems highly debatable.
“The 2010 and 2011 990 tax filings with the IRS show that ACLJ paid a business called the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group a total of $5.6 million in just that two year period. The tax return notes that Jay Sekulow owns 50 percent of this business.
“The 2011 tax filing with the IRS by CASE shows Jay Sekulow receiving $97,848 in ‘reportable compensation’ with zero ‘compensation from related organizations.’ Under ‘independent’ contractors, CASE lists Regency Productions with a payment of $740,365. Part IV of the tax return notes that Jay Sekulow owns Regency. It also lists his sister-in-law, Kim Sekulow, as owner of a company called PFMS which received $528,705 for radio and TV agency work.
“According to a 2011 analysis by the American Bar Association Journal, using research from Bob Smietana, since 1998 CASE and the ACLJ have paid out the following: (These sums exclude payments in 2011 and 2012 which were not then available to the ABA Journal.)
- $15.4 million to the Constitutional Litigation and Advocacy Group, a law firm co-owned by Jay Sekulow.
- $5.7 million to Gary Sekulow, Jay Sekulow’s brother.
- $1.6 million to Pam Sekulow, Jay Sekulow’s wife.
- $2.74 million in private jet lease payments to companies owned by Jay Sekulow and his sister-in-law, Kim Sekulow. The companies also earned $2.89 million for space rental, media production and administrative work.”
In Part Two of our report, we connected Sekulow to the creation of a nonprofit paying money to former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft who served in the George W. Bush administration. We reported as follows:
“One month after stepping down as U.S. Attorney General in 2005, John Ashcroft accepted a part-time teaching position at Regent University, a Christian institution founded by [Pat] Robertson, who is currently Chancellor and Executive Chairman at the University. Ashcroft has remained at Regent University, currently serving as Distinguished Professor of Law and Government. Sekulow is on the Board of Regent as well as a member of the Regent Law faculty.
“In 2005, the same year that Ashcroft stepped down from the Department of Justice and accepted a faculty position at Regent, a nonprofit was formed by Sekulow called the Law and Justice Institute. Under its program description the following year, it stated: “Contract to provide the services of distinguished individuals to participate in educational activities related to the organizations exempt purposes: Regent University School of Law – Distinguished Professor of Law and Government.” That title is the one carried by John Ashcroft.
“From 2006 through the most recently available tax return for 2011, the Law and Justice Institute has paid a total of $2,381,667 to a business called Educational Resources Associates, LLC listed at a residential address in Washington, D.C. Public records show the property was formerly owned by a John and Janet Ashcroft, the name of the former U.S. Attorney General and his wife. Despite the Ashcrofts selling the home in 2005, the tax returns for the Law and Justice Institute through 2011 still carry the same address for Educational Resources Associates, LLC.”
Despite the propaganda that right-wingers believe in freedom and liberty, Sekulow has indicated that he was involved in helping John Ashcroft write the anti-freedom legislation known as the USA Patriot Act.
In the 2005 book, The Culture of Conservative Christian Litigation, author Hans J. Hacker writes: “When interviewed in September 2004 for this project, Sekulow noted that he worked on the USA Patriot Act from ‘concept to completion.’ ”
In an August 20, 2011 radio interview with Rick Wiles on Trunews, Jordan Sekulow, the son of Jay Sekulow, further detailed his father’s involvement in the writing of the anti-civil-rights legislation:
“We supported the Patriot Act…we helped write the Patriot Act…we were working with Attorney General Ashcroft when we wrote it,” Jordan Sekulow said.
Jay Sekulow is enmeshed in right-wing funding of right-wing pursuits. The right-wing network needs Trump to use his bully pulpit to advance their agenda quickly before the mid-term elections potentially erode their power base in the House and Senate. It serves their purposes to pretend that Mueller’s investigation has nothing to do with Trump personally; that it’s simply a “witch hunt,” and to promote the narrative that any media outlet that suggests otherwise is simply engaging in “fake news.”