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Barbara Van Gelder tried valiantly to clear former White House official David Safavian of criminal charges stemming from his relationship with lobbyist Jack Abramoff. But after a jury convicted Safavian in June of four felony counts of false statements and obstructing justice, the one-time top procurement official at the Office of Management and Budget has turned to a new lawyer, Lawrence Robbins of Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck & Untereiner, for his appeal. Van Gelder, a partner at Wiley Rein & Fielding, wrote in an e-mail that there is no bad blood in the move. “I think it is a good idea to have fresh eyes reviewing the record on appeal,” she wrote. “Do I wish I was doing the appeal? I wish the appellate court overturns the conviction. I still intend to stay involved.” For his part, Robbins says he’d never met Safavian before getting a call about the case. “I don’t have any reason to believe it reflects some dissatisfaction with his trial lawyers,” he says. As for his strategy? Well, Robbins says he’s still just trying to familiarize himself with the case.
Emma Schwartz can be contacted at [email protected].

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