Legal Eagles: Stephen Brogan

Stephen Brogan, Managing Partner, Jones Day
With at least 13 of its lawyers positioned strategically throughout the Trump administration, including Don McGahn, the firm has not been coy about its ties to Trump and exercises immense, unprecedented power in Washington. McGahn who served as counsel to the 2016 campaign and then the transition team has also led the highly successful effort to pack the U.S. courts with fellow conservative Federalist Society judges and has been at the center of a continuous stream of legal actions in connection with the Mueller investigation, immigration, and other issues. A Jones Day advertisement boasts of insights on the new administration with a photo of the White House to hammer home the point.

Other Jones Day attorneys who have or currently hold key administration positions include: Noel Francisco: solicitor general; William McGinley, deputy assistant to the president and Cabinet secretary; James Burnham, senior associate counsel to the president; Annie Donaldson, special counsel to the president, chief of staff to the White House counsel; Stephen Vaden, special assistant to the secretary of agriculture; Blake Delaplane, special assistant to the White House Counsel; John Gore, deputy assistant attorney general for civil rights; Michael Murray, counsel to the deputy attorney General; James Uthmeier, special advisor to secretary of commerce; Greg Katsas, deputy counsel to the president; David Morrell, associate counsel to the president; and Kaytlin Roholt, special counsel to the Senate Judiciary Commission.

Jones Day is famously governed – unlike any other major international law firm – with control resting in the hands of just one man, Steve Brogan. The power Brogan exercises over Jones Day’s 2,500 attorneys located in 44 global offices has been described as autocratic and absolute.

Unusually, on April 16, 2016, The White House Counsel’s Office, issued a blanket ethics waiver allowing White House Counsel McGahn and other former Jones Day attorneys working in the White House to participate in communications and meetings with Jones Day.

It is well known that the law firm of Jones Day represents President Trump, the Trump 2016 and 2020 Presidential Campaign Committees, Trump for America, Inc. (aka The 2016 Trump Transition Team) and certain Trump related political action committees as well as the Republican National Committee, The National Rifle Association, Citizens United, Judicial Watch, Diebold, RenTech (owned by Robert Mercer), and certain interests of Wilber Ross. According to Federal Election Commission filings, during the period from March 13, 2017 through the end of the year Trump’s campaign has been publicly reported to have paid more than $2.3 million to Jones Day.

What is less known is Jones Day’s global reach, which includes a Moscow office, run from Washington by Vladimir Lechtman. The firm’s oligarch practice has included representing companies owned and controlled by a group of the former Soviet Union’s most wealthy and powerful oligarchs, some of whom appear to be at the center of the U.S. election controversy now being investigated — all of whom are alleged to owe their immense wealth and influence — at least in part — to relationships with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Although it is unclear whether Jones Day represents the oligarchs themselves or merely the companies holding their assets, according to Jones Day and their clients’ disclosures, these oligarch controlled companies include but are not limited to the following (noted along with these individuals approximate net worth): Alfa Bank, TNK and LetterOne (Petr Aven, $4.6 billion, German Kahn, $9.3 billion, Alexey Kuzmichev, $7.2 billion and Mikhail M. Fridman, $14.4 billion); Access Industries (Leonard Blavatnik, $19 billion); Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation (Alexander Mashkevitch, $1.91 billion, Patokh Chodiev, $2 billion and Alijan Ibragimov, $2.3 billion); Basic Element (Oleg Deripaska, $5.1 billion); Sapir Organization, 100 Church Street development (Sapir family, $2 billion); Rosneft (Igor Sechin, $2 billion); Roust Corp (Roustam Tariko, Russian Standard Bank and Russian Standard Vodka, $1 billion) and Renova Group (Viktor Vekselberg, $12.4 billion). Notably Victor Veksleberg, Oleg Derapska and Igor Sechin have been placed on the U.S. Sanctions List. The founders of the Alfa Group entities and Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation have remained off of the sanctions list. Jones Day has also represented Gazprom Export, a branch of the Russian state-owned energy giant.

A former Jones Day attorney, Solicitor General Noel Francisco, is also now next in line, after Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein, to oversee the Mueller investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 election given the vacancy created by the departure of Rachel Brand. In February, Brand, who was next in the line in succession behind Rosenstein, announced she was stepping down as associate attorney general after only nine months on the job. In a speech before the Federalist Society in February she said she resigned because she “unexpectedly” received an offer she could not refuse to become the global governance director at Walmart. Coincidentally, Jones Day generated millions of dollars advising Walmart on an investigation regarding violations of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) after which the CEO was replaced by Doug McMillon to whom Brand will now report. The reason Francisco is next in line behind Rosenstein is because the President has not appointed her replacement, who in any event would need to be confirmed by the Senate.

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