World

Trump's legal team elevates Washington outsider

WASHINGTON: A little-known former prosecutor with a doctorate in medieval history will play a central role on US President Donald Trump's legal team.

This comes as many top-tier lawyers shy away from representing him in a probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election.

Mr Andrew Ekonomou, 69, is one of a handful of lawyers assisting Mr Jay Sekulow, the main lawyer representing Mr Trump in Special Counsel Robert Mueller's investigation.

Mr Sekulow told Reuters that after the departure of Washington lawyer John Dowd from Mr Trump's personal legal team last week, Mr Ekonomou will assume a more prominent role.

Mr Ekonomou said he has been working with Mr Sekulow on the Mueller probe since June.

The elevation comes at a crucial time in the Mueller probe, as Mr Trump's team is negotiating the terms under which the president himself may be interviewed.

LAST MAN STANDING

Mr Sekulow is now the last man standing of a trio of personal lawyers hired last spring to assist Mr Trump on the probe. Combative New York lawyer Marc Kasowitz exited the team last summer.

Mr Sekulow said Mr Ekonomou, who works under contract as an assistant district attorney in Brunswick, Georgia, was a "brilliant strategist" who has handled complex investigations for decades.

Mr Ekonomou told Reuters that he "prosecutes a lot of murders for the DA".

When asked about bigger cases of late, Mr Ekonomou said: "That is basically it. Nothing earthshaking."

Mr Ekonomou said he is up to the task of defending Mr Trump, saying he has practised law for more than four decades.

"I have been tested plenty of times. Just because you are not a Beltway lawyer does not mean you don't know what you are doing," he said, referring to the political and social world of Washington.

Mr Trump has tried to tap top-tier lawyers to represent him but has been repeatedly rebuffed, said people close to the matter. - REUTERS

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