REPS LIEU AND RICE CALL FOR ETHICS INVESTIGATION INTO TRUMP LAWYER'S LIES

June 5, 2018
Press Release

WASHINGTON – Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D-Los Angeles County) and Congresswoman Kathleen Rice (D-NY) called on the Georgia State Bar to open an ethics investigation into Jay Sekulow’s false statements to the media regarding his client, Donald J. Trump. Mr. Sekulow repeatedly misled the American public by denying the President’s involvement in drafting a misleading statement regarding a Trump Tower meeting between the Trump campaign and an alleged Russian informant. Under Georgia’s ethics rules, lying or failing to disclose a material fact to a third party is an offense that could lead to disbarment.

In the letter, the Members write:

Ms. Paula Frederick

General Counsel

State Bar of Georgia

104 Marietta St. NW, Suite 100

Atlanta, GA 30303

Dear Ms. Frederick:

We write regarding the conduct of Mr. Jay Sekulow, who was admitted to the Georgia State Bar on June 5, 1980.  As Members of Congress and former prosecutors, we fully expect attorneys to vigorously defend their clients.  We do not, however, expect them to lie for their clients. We would therefore like to call your attention to certain actions taken by Mr. Sekulow that appear to have violated the State Bar of Georgia’s ethics rules, specifically Rule 4.1 (“Truthfulness in Statements to Others”). Please consider this letter a request for a formal ethics investigation into Mr. Sekulow.

In June 2016, Donald Trump Jr., Jared Kushner, and Paul Manafort met with Russian lawyer Natalia Veselnitskaya who, by her own account, was an “informant” who had been “actively communicating with the office of the Russian prosecutor general.”  After the New York Times reported on the meeting in July, Donald Trump Jr. released a statement on July 8 claiming the meeting was primarily about “a program about the adoption of Russian children.” After an additional story broke revealing the true purpose of the meeting – to obtain damaging information on then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton – Donald Trump Jr. released a new statement changing his story and confirming several of the report’s details. 

Mr. Sekulow first denied the President was involved in drafting the initial misleading statement on July 12, when he told CNN, “I wasn’t involved in the statement drafting at all, nor was the President.”  Subsequently, Mr. Sekulow insisted on at least three separate occasions that the July statement was not drafted by the President.

Contrary to his initial claims, this week we learned that Mr. Sekulow sent a letter to Robert Mueller in January 2018 that read, “…the President dictated a short but accurate response to the New York Times article on behalf of his son, Donald Trump, Jr.”  Mr. Sekulow’s letter clearly conflicts with his earlier statements as seen below:

·      Mr. Sekulow, CNN interview, 7/12/17: "That  [statement] was written, no that was written by Donald Trump Jr. and I'm sure with consultation with his lawyer. That wasn't written by the president."

·      Mr. Sekulow, ABC interview, 7/12/17: "The president didn't sign off on anything. He was coming back from the G20. The statement that was released Saturday was released by Donald Trump Jr., I'm sure in consultation with his lawyers. The President wasn't involved in that.”

·      Mr. Sekulow, NBC interview, 7/16/17: "The President was not — did not — draft the response. The response came from Donald Trump Jr. and — I'm sure — in consultation with his lawyer. ... Let me say this — but I do want to be clear — that the President was not involved in the drafting of the statement and did not issue the statement. It came from Donald Trump Jr.”

·      Mr. Sekulow, statement to the Washington Post, 7/31/17: "Apart from being of no consequence, the characterizations are misinformed, inaccurate, and not pertinent.”

As you know, Rule 4.1 of the Georgia State Bar ethics manual states, “In the course of representing a client a lawyer shall not knowingly (a) make a false statement of material fact or law to a third person; or (b) fail to disclose a material fact to a third person when disclosure is necessary to avoid assisting a criminal or fraudulent act by a client, unless disclosure is prohibited by Rule 1.6. The maximum penalty for a violation of this Rule is disbarment.” 

It is deeply disturbing that Mr. Sekulow appears to have made, on at least four separate occasions, false statements of material facts to third parties – including the American people. Given the nature of the meeting about which he appears to have lied, he may have attempted to cover up evidence of criminal activity including conspiracy to obstruct justice. Mr. Sekulow’s current status of “Active Member in Good Standing” would suggest the Bar has not formally evaluated recent developments.  We thus request the General Counsel’s office investigate whether Mr. Sekulow in fact violated Rule 4.1 and should face penalties for such a violation.

Thank you for your attention to this important matter. We look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Ted W. Lieu                                                                          

Member of Congress                  

 

Kathleen Rice

Member of Congress