Speed Reads

B Team

Trump's newest addition to his Russia legal team has a doctorate in medieval history

For some reason, President Trump appears to be having trouble hiring top lawyers to represent him in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation of possible Russian collusion and obstruction of justice. Trump's trio of personal lawyers — John Dowd, Marc Kasowitz, and Jay Sekulow — is now down to Sekulow, but while the Trump team searches for new lead lawyer, Sekulow has promoted a little-known former federal prosecutor from Georgia named Andrew Ekonomou. Ekonomou, 69, worked with Sekulow on a high-profile religious liberties case in the 1980s, after serving as a prosecutor in the Atlanta U.S. attorney's office in the '70s and early '80s.

Now, Ekonomou works as a contract assistant district attorney for a private Atlanta firm, Lambros Firm LLC. He says he has been working on the Trump team since June, and both Sekulow and presidential attorney Ty Cobb say Ekonomou will assume a more prominent role after Dowd's departure. Ekonomou told Reuters on Tuesday that he "prosecutes a lot of murders for the DA," and his recent cases are "nothing earthshaking," but said he's "been tested plenty of times" and "just because you're not a Beltway lawyer doesn't mean you don't know what you're doing."

Ekonomou has an unusual background for the job — during what he describes as a "midlife crisis," he returned to school and got a doctorate in medieval history from Emory University in 2000, Reuters notes, and his C.V. lists a book on Greek popes and Byzantine Rome. Elevating him to a prominent role is odd, says Savannah Law School professor Andrew Wright, who worked as an associate White House counsel under former President Barack Obama. "He's well past the A-team grab space."