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No one said representing the vice president was easy. But when Shannen Coffin headed up the Department of Justice’s defense of Vice President Dick Cheney in the legal brawl over documents related to his energy task force, the deputy assistant attorney general took a public beating. Coffin’s resolve appears to have won more than just a victory for his former client. The current Steptoe & Johnson attorney heads to the vice president’s office next week as counsel, filling the position held by David Addington, who has replaced now-indicted I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby as chief of staff. The one-time government lawyer is no stranger to high-profile cases. He led the government’s effort to bar frozen Iraqi assets from being used to pay an award to prisoners of war from the first Gulf War and headed up the Justice Department’s defense in cases challenging so-called partial-birth abortions. Coffin takes over as the top legal adviser of an office still under scrutiny in the Plame investigation. “He’s going to have a lot of work dealing with the blowback from the Libby situation,” says David Bookbinder, the Sierra Club’s Washington legal director who faced off with Coffin in the energy litigation.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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