Congressional investigations present challenges unlike those confronted in ordinary litigation or even in agency enforcement matters. In this unique forum, there is no judge overseeing the proceedings; hearings are usually open to the public and televised; legal privileges are sometimes not respected; and the entire process takes place at the center of the US government in Washington, DC, and too often in a politically charged atmosphere. Representing companies, industries, and individuals in this arena requires experienced legal counsel who can strategically manage competing legal, political, and public relations issues, while minimizing risk and working to protect the interests of clients who find themselves in the public spotlight.
Independent commission inquiries pose similar challenges, especially in view of the high-profile nature of the proceedings and the condensed time frames in which such commissions are commanded to do their work. Often corporate executives and individuals who testify before an independent inquiry commission can find themselves violating shifting, unwritten protocol that can result in newspaper headlines. Even straightforward issues such as how and when a witness testifies can present challenges, as well as opportunities to enhance a client’s credibility or minimize reputational injury. To guide such decisions, insiders’ knowledge and experience is key.
Our lawyers are skilled in managing and often curtailing investigations and inquiries and are also attuned to potentially damaging collateral issues that could increase the risk of further litigation or exposure. These include parallel investigations involving other federal and state executive branch enforcement agencies, shareholder litigation, and public relations concerns. Understanding what is at stake, our team draws support from other lawyers from the firm with relevant regulatory and substantive legal and industry knowledge. When shaping strategy, for example, we consult our colleagues in the firm’s white collar litigation and government investigations and Washington strategic government relations practices, as well as those in Morgan Lewis Consulting.
Among our nationally recognized authorities on congressional investigations is Fred F. Fielding, who served as the deputy counsel to President Richard M. Nixon, counsel to Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, and commissioner of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States (commonly referred to as the 9/11 Commission). He managed well over 500 congressional inquiries and investigations while in White House service, in addition to the numerous inquiries he has dealt with in the private sector. Another prominent member of our team is James Hamilton, who was assistant chief counsel of the Senate Watergate Committee. Drawing from his experience in managing many clients’ interests in this context, Jim is the author of one of the definitive guides to congressional investigation practice.
Our team also includes lawyers with deep knowledge and experience relating to key congressional committees. Among our team members, Gary D. Slaiman, Matthew S. Miner, and Timothy J. Shea have served as chief counsel to Senate subcommittees. Tim and Matt served on the Senate’s principal investigative subcommittee, the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), and Matt served as the minority staff director of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Our bipartisan congressional investigations team routinely represents clients before a wide range of Senate and House committees, subcommittees, and offices, including the PSI; the Office of Congressional Ethics (OCE); the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation; the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; and the House Energy and Commerce Committee, among others. As a team, we offer a wealth of experience and the ability to understand and resolve the political, public relations, and practical dimensions of significant Washington, DC problems.
And, when our clients require it, our lawyers also conduct internal investigations in the private and public sectors, litigate complex matters arising in a variety of industries and regulatory schemes, and handle whistleblower issues in the context of congressional investigations and other litigation.