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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tuesday’s election may have produced mixed results for congressional Republicans and President Donald Trump’s administration, but the results clearly portend poorly for several of Trump’s allies in the private sector who may need new legal help.
The president promised to adopt a “warlike posture” if Democrats, set to control the House of Representatives, mount new investigations against him and his administration after the new Congress is seated in 2019. Steptoe & Johnson LLP’s government affairs and public policy group has similarly advised any Trump ally to begin preparing their own battle plans.
“Every single House committee will launch investigations in some way, shape, or form—and not just of the Trump administration,” said Jason Abel, of counsel at Steptoe, during a Thursday webinar forecasting the policymaking agenda for 2019.
“Right now, it is your opportunity to be prepared and develop a response plan,” he said.
Abel, who leads Steptoe’s political law and campaign finance practice, said Democrats could find investigatory targets in Tom Price’s tenure leading the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services; Scott Pruitt’s tenure running the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Ryan Zinke’s leadership at the U.S. Department of the Interior; and Ben Carson’s leadership at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Any “corporate interest” or person viewed publicly as an ally of the Trump administration that has business involving those federal government entities should expect scrutiny, Abel said, adding that Democrats have kept a list of their letters and investigations where they received no responses. Now that Democrats carry the gavel in the House, their letters cannot be so easily ignored.
The list of prospective fights looming for the new Congress appears endless, with a confirmation fight over the next Senate-confirmed U.S. attorney general now appearing near the top of that list. Following news of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s hospitalization because of an injury sustained during a fall, Abel also fretted over the “brutal fight” he predicted would ensue if she leaves the court in the coming year.
Law Firm Moves, News, and Notes
Speaking of the U.S. Attorney General, Matt Whitaker replaced Jeff Sessions this week in the Justice Department’s top spot. Whitaker, a former U.S. attorney in Iowa, served as Sessions’ chief of staff after working as executive director of the Foundation for Accountability and Civic Trust until the fall of 2017.
Miles & Stockbridge signed a lease on a new office in Washington, D.C. The Baltimore-based firm’s new home in the nation’s capital is located on Pennsylvania Avenue, a short trek away from its current K Street location. The firm expects to make the move in April 2019.
McGuireWoods Consulting selected Paul Reagan as the head of its federal government relations practice. Reagan rejoined the Richmond-based firm in April after working for several prominent statewide-elected Democrats in Virginia, including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe.
Perkins Coie continued its hiring spree in Washington this week with the announced addition of a pair of partners: David Fletcher in the firm’s commercial litigation practice and government contracts subgroup and Nathan Kelley to the firm’s intellectual property practice. Fletcher most recently led Cooley’s government contracts practice. Kelley joins from the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where he was solicitor and deputy general counsel.
Last week, Perkins Coie announced Valerie Dahiya had joined the firm in D.C. from the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, where she was branch chief in the division of trading and markets. Perkins Coie’s expansion in D.C. also comes as the firm faces criticism from Republicans, who have taken issue with partner Marc Elias’ representation of Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, in the Democrats’ midterm recount efforts.
Minoli previously spent some 18 years at the EPA in various legal capacities, most recently as principal deputy general counsel after serving as the acting general counsel.
Roger Brown joined Baker & Hostetler as a partner in Washington, D.C., after 10 years with accounting and tax giant EY, becoming the second notable move from one of the Big Four to Big Law in the space of under a month. Brown is joining Baker & Hostetler’s international tax practice, advising companies in the financial services, technology, and insurance and asset management realms.