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Flanking Christine Blasey Ford during Thursday’s hearings on the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation were her attorneys, Debra Katz, founding partner of Katz, Marshall & Banks in D.C., and Michael Bromwich, formerly senior of counsel at Robbins, Russell, Englert, Orseck, Untereiner & Sauber.
The lawyers may have been there to counsel Ford, but the hearing frequently turned to their own place in the drama of sexual misconduct claims against Kavanaugh.
Under questioning by Rachel Mitchell, the sex crimes prosecutor acting for the GOP senators, Ford said she thought her attorneys were working pro bono but that she didn’t know the details.
“Both her co-counsel are doing this pro bono,” Bromwich piped up. “We are not being paid, and we have no expectation of being paid.”
Bromvich has said his exit from Robbins Russell was expedited by—but not caused by—his desire to represent Ford. He did not respond to a request this week for comment on his departure and future plans, but he replied through a spokesperson at his eponymous consulting firm that he had nothing to say.
Katz, meanwhile, represented Ford before the committee’s top Democrat, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., said she referred Ford’s allegations of sexual assault by a teenage Kavanaugh to federal officials.
Asked about her representation on Thursday, Ford told the committee, “Various people referred me to lawyers they knew in the Washington, D.C., area.” When pressed by Mitchell, she said: “I think that the staff of Dianne Feinstein’s office suggested the possibility of some attorneys.”
“OK, including the two that are sitting on either side of you?” Mitchell asked.
“Not both of them; no,” Ford answered. She later explained during the hearing that Feinstein’s office recommended “the Katz firm.”
Republican senators latched onto the idea that Ford linked up with Katz and talked to the press before her allegations were made known—confidentially or otherwise—to the judiciary committee’s GOP majority or law enforcement at the federal or local level.
During Kavanaugh’s testimony, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., asked him whether the judge knew that when Feinstein met with him on Aug. 20 and did not raise the allegations, that she had already known of Ford’s accusations for several weeks. Kavanaugh said he did not know such details at the time, and Graham also pointed out that Feinstein’s staff “already recommended a lawyer to Dr. Ford.”
“If you wanted a FBI investigation, you could have come to us,” Graham said, his voice rising. “What you want to do is destroy this guy’s life, hold this seat open and hope you win in 2020. You’ve said that, not me.”
Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse then picked up on Graham’s statement that Feinstein referred Ford to lawyers before declining to appear at closed-door hearing questioning Kavanaugh on his nomination and before ever making the accusations known to law enforcement.
“I think Dr. Ford is a victim, and I think she’s been through hell and I’m very sympathetic to her, but did the ranking member’s staff, did we hear today make a recommendation to hire a lawyer and she knew all that?” Sasse asked. “And yet we had a hearing here with you and none of these things were asked. But then, once the process was closed, once the FBI investigation was closed, once we were done meeting in public and in private, then this was sprung on you.”
Idaho Sen. Mike Crapo followed Sasse by noting, “the ranking member’s staff helped to, helped Dr. Ford to retain the Katz law firm on sometime between July 30 and August 7.”
Feinstein said during the hearing that neither she nor her staffed leaked the accusations, and she reiterated that on Friday. A reporter for The Washington Post, which revealed Ford’s name and detailed her accusations in September, said Ford did not want to speak on-the-record when she contacted the paper in July.
Law Firm Moves, News, and Notes
James Brochin, who ran his own law firm for nine months after 16 years at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, returned to Big Law this week at Steptoe & Johnson.
Brochin attended law school at Yale University with Brett Kavanaugh and was a housemate. Asked by ALM whether he ever saw Kavanaugh act inappropriately around women, Brochin said, “Absolutely not.”
Stephanie Roy, a veteran telecom industry attorney with an M.S. in applied physics, joined Perkins Coie this week in Washington as a partner in the firm’s technology transactions and privacy practice. She has represented a large telecom provider before the Federal Communications Commission, and her new firm’s promotional material points out her scientific credentials, noting, “[S]he’s a rocket scientist and telecom attorney!”
Petros “Peter” Tsirigotis joined Greenberg Traurig’s corporate practice as a shareholder in Washington and New York this week from Stradley Ronon, where he was co-chair of the private investment funds practice. He previously worked as senior vice president at Brown Brothers Harriman & Co.
His work involves advising financial institutions, asset managers, investment advisers and institutional investors, especially regarding how to best navigate the nation’s regulatory framework.
Drinker Biddle & Reath’s government affairs shop added Laura Hanen as senior vice president and Elaine Vining as special adviser. Prior to joining the District Policy Group, Hanen worked as head of government at the National Association of County and City Health Officials, while Vining worked with the National Hospital Alliance. Hanen previously worked at Drinker Biddle before heading to the Food and Drug Administration’s Office of Legislation.
Laura Biddle joined Venable as partner in Washington after nine years at Hogan Lovells.
Biddle will work as a partner in Venable’s regulatory practice advising domestic and foreign banking organizations, finance firms, lenders and other providers of financial products.
Noah Mamet, former U.S. ambassador to Argentina, joined DLA Piper as a strategic adviser on Latin American issues. He will support DLA Piper’s offices in Los Angeles and Buenos Aires.
Noah Mamet previously led a business consulting firm in which he advised several dozen clients, including The Clinton Global Initiative and former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, among others.