Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort. ()
Paul Manafort, President Donald Trump’s former campaign manager, is no longer being represented by Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr while special counsel and former Wilmer partner Robert Mueller III continues his probe into the Trump campaign’s Russia ties.
Instead he’ll be represented by Miller & Chevalier, a Washington, D.C., boutique with a focus on international law, tax and litigation that has represented Manafort in the past.
A spokesperson for Manafort, Jason Maloni, confirmed the counsel switch in a statement to multiple news outlets late Thursday.
“Mr. Manafort is in the process of retaining his former counsel, Miller & Chevalier, to represent him in the office of special counsel investigation. As of today, WilmerHale no longer represents Mr. Manafort,” the statement said.
The move comes a day after news broke that FBI agents raided Manafort’s house, and a few weeks after Wilmer partner Jamie Gorelick wound-down her representation of Trump’s son-in-law and adviser Jared Kusher in Russia-probe related matters.
That change was precipitated by the potential appearance of conflicts between the firm and Mueller, a former Wilmer partner who now leads the Russia investigation at the Justice Department and has hired three other former Wilmer partners for the team.
The Justice Department had decided Mueller had no actual legal conflicts in the case, and had not represented either Manafort or Kushner while at Wilmer. Yet the same appearance of conflict could have hindered the firm’s representation of Manafort.
Manafort’s lead lawyer at Wilmer was Reginald Brown, who chairs the firm’s financial institutions group and also leads its congressional investigations practice. Manafort was represented in the past by then-Miller & Chevalier lawyer Richard Hibey, who left the firm in June, according to the firm’s website. Bar records show he has not yet joined another law firm or company as an attorney.
As Washington law firms go, Wilmer and Miller & Chevalier are vastly different. Wilmer is one of the most profitable and government-focused firms in town, with dozens of top-level former officials leading the partnership in its history. It is also one of D.C.’s largest law offices, with about 290 full-time lawyers in Washington and almost 900 lawyers globally. Average profits per partner at the firm last year reached almost $1.9 million.
The 97-year-old Miller & Chevalier has about 100 lawyers total in a sole office in downtown Washington. It is organized around four practice groups: tax, employee benefits, litigation and international law, where it specializes in issues related to Latin American and Eastern Europe. The firm’s profits per partner are unreported.