Vice President Mike Pence has lawyered up in connection with ongoing probes into the Trump campaign’s contacts with Russia, tapping McGuireWoods chairman Richard Cullen, a seasoned litigator who was once a partner at McGuireWoods with FBI Director James Comey.
The move by the vice president, first reported by The Washington Post on Thursday and confirmed in a statement from Pence’s office, comes a month after President Donald Trump hired Marc Kasowitz of Kasowitz Benson Torres as his personal lawyer.
Cullen previously served on staff for Republican members of Congress during both the Watergate and Iran-Contra investigations, and was a member of former President George W. Bush’s legal team during the recount saga after the 2000 presidential election.
He also served as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia from 1991 to 1993 and was appointed state attorney general of Virginia in 1997 and served until 1998. More recently, Cullen has been in the news for his representation of former FIFA president Sepp Blatter during an investigation into corruption at the global soccer federation.
The Trump administration is facing investigations by special counsel Robert Mueller III and congressional committees into potential collusion between Russia and the president’s campaign during the 2016 election. A report late Wednesday indicated that Mueller’s investigation is also looking at whether Trump obstructed justice in connection with his handling of contacts with former FBI director Comey and the president’s decision to fire Comey last month.
The circumstances of Comey’s firing and his testimony about feeling pressured by the president to drop an investigation of former Trump national security adviser Michael Flynn could be key to the investigation. Cullen reportedly knows Comey well—one news report about the earlier FIFA probe described the pair as “close” associates.
Cullen and Comey both served in the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Richmond, but didn’t overlap—Cullen left in 1993, while Comey stepped into his role there as managing assistant U.S. attorney in 1996. But the two lawyers did work together in private practice at McGuireWoods between 1993 and 1996. In a 2002 National Law Journal profile of Comey, who at that point had become chief federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Cullen commented on Comey’s time at McGuireWoods and on Comey’s approach to being a prosecutor.
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