Jennifer Newstead (File: 2003) (Rick Kopstein)
Davis Polk & Wardwell partner Jennifer Newstead, a veteran of the George W. Bush administration whom President Donald Trump nominated for U.S. State Department legal adviser, reported earning a $1.5 million partnership share between January 2016 and May of this year, according to documents the U.S. Office of Government Ethics posted Tuesday.
Newstead, a Davis Polk partner in New York since 2006, stated in her public disclosure that she provided legal services to companies including Comcast Corp., IBM Corp. and AstraZeneca. She said she could not reveal the identities of three corporate clients who are the subject of nonpublic investigations. Newstead specialized in international work at the firm. At the State Department, she would oversee more than 200 lawyers and support staff.
Newstead’s financial disclosure estimated her anticipated partnership share between $1 million and $5 million and a separate partnership withdrawal payment also between $1 million and $5 million. She said in an ethics agreement, signed on July 25 but posted by U.S. officials on Tuesday, that the withdrawal payment would be calculated “based on the firm’s performance as of the end of the calendar quarter immediately preceding the quarter in which my withdrawal occurs.” The pro rata partner share, Newstead said, is based on the outstanding value of her partnership interests.
Newstead would be the first female State legal adviser, according to John Bellinger III, who formerly held the post and is now a partner at Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer. Writing at Lawfare Blog, Bellinger called Newstead an “outstanding” choice to lead State’s legal team. “She has good connections with other lawyers in the administration that should make her even more effective in interagency discussions,” Bellinger wrote.
If confirmed by the Senate, Newstead, nominated on Sept. 2, would return to the federal government following a 12-year stint at Davis Polk. She joined the firm after clerking for Justice Stephen Breyer for the 1995 term, and then left in 2001 to become principal deputy attorney general in the U.S. Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy. In that role, she helped draft the Patriot Act, a counterrorism law that granted the government sweeping new surveillance and detention powers in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks.
As BuzzFeed reported in June, Newstead was described as the “day-to-day manager of the Patriot Act in Congress” in a 2006 book by John Yoo, a George W. Bush administration lawyer and now University of California, Berkeley, School of Law professor who wrote controversial memos justifying advanced interrogation tactics against detainees.
Newstead left the Justice Department in 2002 to serve as associate White House counsel and later became the Office of Management and Budget’s general counsel.
According to her law firm profile, Newstead represented companies in “high-profile, cross-border” investigations into possible violations of federal anti-bribery and anti-money laundering laws, along with probes involving U.S. economic sanctions. She represented clients before the Justice Department and Securities and Exchange Commission, which both enforce the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and also before the Federal Reserve Board and New York Department of Financial Services, among other agencies.
Newstead last year contributed $2,700 to the ill-fated presidential campaign of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, according to federal campaign finance disclosures. She has not since contributed to any political campaigns.