Washington Wrap is a weekly look at the biggest legal industry news and Big Law moves shaping the legal business in Washington, D.C. Send tips and lateral moves to Ryan Lovelace at email@example.com.
The long-anticipated battle over documents from Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s years in President George W. Bush’s administration escalated this week in Senate Judiciary Committee hearings on his Supreme Court nomination.
Democrats complained that documents were being withheld and that they were given insufficient time to review the records. New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker channeled Tony Curtis impersonating Kirk Douglas portraying Spartacus when he stood up for publicizing confidential committee documents.
Bill Burck, a Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan partner overseeing the release of records from the Bush administration, said he was “surprised” by Booker’s actions because he said his team already told the senator he could use the documents publicly.
“In fact, we have said yes to every request made by the Senate Democrats to make documents public,” Burck said in an email.
Booker has continued to maintain on cable television that he really did break Senate rules, imploring viewers to “check my Twitter feed” for evidence.
Earlier in the week, former deputy White House Counsel Stefan Passantino—who just joined former White House chief of staff Reince Priebus at Michael Best & Friedrich—gave The National Law Journal a peek at how President Donald Trump’s White House had handled the fight over records.
The administration’s decision to exercise executive privilege in withholding documents “is not a controversial position,” Passantino said. Turning over everything would mean waiving a core obligation of White House lawyers to the office of the president—past, present and future, he said.
Passantino noted that his team processed every Senate-confirmed cabinet official, and he said he understood that senators could not be seen as acquiescing to the executive branch in their effort to obtain documents. In his mind, there were no “bad guys” on either side of the aisle in the records fight.
In other Kavanaugh news, the right-leaning Judicial Crisis Network launched a $600,000 cable television ad buy to back the nominee. The ad, airing on CNN, Fox News and MSNBC, features clips of Kavanaugh at the committee hearings.
Left-leaning opponents of Kavanaugh appear to be pursuing an earned-media strategy to fight his nomination. Seventy demonstrators were arrested during the hearings on Tuesday alone, and Megaphone Strategies is courting publicity for several of the arrested protestors, including “Coyote Ugly” lead actress Piper Perabo. Megaphone Strategies is a “social justice media strategy firm” that lists its clients as including People For The American Way, Black Lives Matter, and the Women’s March, among many others.
Kavanaugh’s confirmation “sherpa,” Jon Kyl, was noticeably absent when the committee began proceedings this week. That’s because the senior of counsel at Covington & Burling decided to return to the U.S. Senate to replace the late Arizona Sen. John McCain, who died last month—giving Kyl the opportunity to vote on the high court nomination he helped to lead.
Speaking of Covington, Trisha Anderson, who most recently served as FBI principal deputy general counsel, rejoined the firm as a partner in Washington.
Anderson’s practice will focus on national security and government enforcement matters, particularly surveillance and law enforcement compliance and litigation, cybersecurity and data privacy, and economic sanctions issues. She primarily advises clients in the information technology, communications, and financial services industries.
Virginia Lt. Gov. Justin Fairfax made the unusual move of joining Morrison & Foerster this week as a partner without leaving public office.
Fairfax, who was elected last November, will be part of the firm’s litigation, trials, investigations, and white-collar defense groups.
Tensegerity Law Group, a patent-litigation-focused law firm formed in 2011, opened offices in D.C. this week.
The relatively young firm was founded by a small group of partners and associates who exited Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Tensegerity will be led in Washington by partner Azra Hadzimehmedovic, a former Weil associate, and partner Aaron Nathan, also a Weil alum.
Squire Patton Boggs’ U.S. public policy practice added Dave LesStrang as principal, following his spending several decades as a staffer on the Hill.
He has worked for the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee and was most recently the majority clerk and staff director for the Subcommittee on Interior, the Environment, and Related Agencies. He will advise clients on policy matters, particularly involving the appropriations process.
Maria González Calvet, a former federal prosecutor in the Justice Department’s FCPA unit and in-house counsel at General Electric, has joined Ropes & Gray as a partner in D.C.
She will work on the firm’s anti-corruption and international risk team, focusing on internal investigations and clients’ disclosure, negotiations, and compliance issues.
She will draw on more than 20 years of government experience in private practice focused on consumer protection law and privacy and cybersecurity compliance.
King & Spalding lured Brian Ashin from Manatt, Phelps & Phillips to join the firm as partner in Washington.
Ashin will work in King & Spalding’s corporate, finance, and investments practice group and will represent private equity, financial institutions, and private companies.
Davis Wright Tremaine added Doug Litvack as a partner in the firm’s Washington, D.C., office.
He was previously an associate at Jones Day and began his career as an attorney at the Federal Trade Commission.
Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld’s pro bono work for the Washington Nationals Youth Baseball Academy and Nationals Foundation was honored on-field before Thursday night’s game against the Chicago Cubs.
The game ended with the Nationals losing in 10 innings to the National League-leading Cubs. The Nationals have a losing record, and look unlikely to end their streak of not winning a single playoff series since expanding to D.C. in 2005.