The types of legal challenges that follow major incidents or allegations often attract the attention of the US Congress, through both individual member inquiries and formal committee investigations. These investigations, which can have political or policy implications, can occur simultaneously with internal and grand jury investigations, giving rise to the risk of public hearings and adverse publicity at a time when a company is seeking to understand facts and contain legal risks. Additionally, the very broad investigative powers of Congress create unique risks that require a deep understanding of the forum as well as experience managing the dangers an inquiry or investigation poses as part of a multifaceted crisis. Whether in response to a critical incident, a government inquiry, or a self-identified need for internal investigation, a crisis response plan should be designed to address the risks of potential congressional investigations and subsequent criminal charges. As part of this response plan, it is useful to identify in advance the team of Washington counsel best suited to represent your interests before the members and committees that are likely to be in play.
Morgan Lewis’s deep bipartisan bench of Washington strategic government relations and counseling lawyers have decades of experience dealing with congressional inquiries and investigations. From a former White House counsel to former top Democratic and Republican staff of congressional investigative committees (including the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations; the Senate Committee on the Judiciary; the Senate Committee on Health, Environment, Labor, and Pensions; and Senate Commerce committees), we have represented dozens of clients before virtually every key House and Senate investigative committee. As a result, we are attuned to the direct legal risks involved in high-profile congressional matters, including witness disclosure obligations and potential referrals to enforcement authorities under federal false statement and obstruction statutes. We also have experience in addressing collateral legal risks that often arise from such investigations, including parallel policy or legislative efforts, congressional refusal to honor the attorney-client privilege, and outside groups and litigants seeking to use congressional testimony as an opportunity for discovery. We have prepared numerous CEOs and other key executives to testify and have managed both expansive and limited congressional demands for documents, interviews, and answers to specific inquiries. Importantly, we have a long history of working collaboratively with other lawyers and groups at the firm in order to effectively address the range of risks presented by a legal or corporate crisis.