Speed Reads

Trump impeachment trial

Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow's odd impeachment rant about 'lawyer lawsuits' may stem from a misheard phrase

During debate Tuesday evening over the rules of President Trump's impeachment trial, Trump's personal lawyer Jay Sekulow had a confusing rant about the Democratic House impeachment managers and "lawyer lawsuits."

"And by the way — lawyer lawsuits?" Sekulow asked. "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? The Constitution allows lawyer lawsuits. It's disrespecting the Constitution of the United States to even say that in this chamber — lawyer lawsuits." He was met with blank looks from the impeachment managers, and lead manager Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), in his rebuttal, said he had no idea what Sekulow was talking about.

Schiff wasn't the only one confused, but Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and other observers suggested that Sekulow had just misheard House impeachment manager Val Demings (D-Fla.) discussing FOIA lawsuits a few minutes earlier. Trump's layers suggest that "this House should have sought these materials in court, or awaited further lawsuits under the Freedom of Information Act, a.k.a. FOIA lawsuits," she said. "Any such suggestion is meritless."

Despite the simple elegance of this explanation, the White House said no, "lawyer lawsuits" are a thing and Sekulow meant what he said.

"It might seem like a small point in the grand scheme of things, even if you set aside Sekulow’s demonstrative and indignant response to something that doesn’t appear to have actually been said," Aaron Blake writes at The Washington Post. "But if anything, the White House’s remarkable double-down would seem to speak volumes about its strategy here — and its devotion to the facts."