The resignation of John Dowd as President Trump's lead attorney for the Russia investigation left a gaping hole in the president's legal team, and according to several reports, Trump has been recently struggling to find lawyers who want to represent him. But he's not completely out of luck: Andrew Ekonomou, a Trump lawyer who's previously served a smaller role on his team, is now reportedly being elevated to a more prominent position. So, who is he?
Since June, Ekonomou has been part of a small group of lawyers assisting Jay Sekulow, Trump's personal attorney, in matters relating to the Justice Department's Russia investigation, Reuters reports. However, Sekulow and Ty Cobb, another chief Trump attorney, told NBC News on Wednesday that the 69-year-old Ekonomou will now play a more prominent role on the legal team following Dowd's departure.
Ekonomou is an attorney at Lambros Firm LLC, an Atlanta-based law firm that handles civil and criminal racketeering cases for state district attorneys. Before joining Lambros, Ekonomou led the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney's office in Atlanta, and according to Reuters, even briefly served as acting U.S. Attorney for that district in 1982.
In 1987, Ekonomou worked with Sekulow on a high-profile First Amendment case that ultimately came before the Supreme Court. The two became colleagues again when Ekonomou joined the American Center for Law and Justice, a conservative legal advocacy group founded by Pat Robertson and for which Sekulow is the chief legal counsel.
Ekonomou told Reuters that, at some time around the 1990s, he had a "mid-life crisis" that he said resulted in him enrolling in Emory University and pursuing a doctorate in medieval history, which he received in 2000. Ekonomou went on to write Byzantine Rome and the Greek Popes, a scholarly book about Rome and the papacy in the seventh and eight centuries. The Logos journal called it "significant and serious work of scholarship," while one Amazon reviewer noted that "at least 30% of the pages are footnotes."
“He is a force of nature,” Drew Ashby, a trial lawyer who worked for Ekonomou between 2007 and 2010, told Reuters about his former boss. “Andy has the kind of presence and the kind of mind that I would think would make Donald Trump listen.”
Currently, Ekonomou works under contract as an assistant district attorney in Brunswick, Georgia, and told Reuters that he "prosecutes a lot of murders for the D.A" in his current position. When asked what other significant cases he's worked on lately, Ekonomou said "that's basically it."
"Nothing earth-shattering," he added.
The elevation of Ekonomou comes at a perilous time for Trump's legal team.
In addition to the departure of Dowd, Trump has reportedly failed on numerous occasions recently to hire top lawyers to represent him. In mid-March, Republican power lawyer Ted Olsen declined Trump's request to work for him, the Washington Post reported. The Hill reported in June that four top law firms also refused to be retained by Trump, and according to the Daily Beast, so have Tom Buchanan and Dan Webb, two other top attorneys.
After Dowd resigned, the White House said that two other lawyers, Joseph diGenova and Victoria Toensing, would be joining Trump's team. However, Sekulow announced days later that diGeova and Toensing won't be working for Trump after all, due to unspecified "conflicts."
On Tuesday, a prankster poked fun at Trump's reported difficulty finding a lawyer with a satirical Craigslist posting. The faux-job listing bore the title "SEEKING LEAD ATTORNEY FOR DIFFICULT CLIENT," and jokingly requested an attorney willing to work for "a client who is very forceful and opinionated about his defense and is his own best counsel."