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Saturday, August 09, 2003

More factoids re Ms. Gorelick

I'm almost at the MEGO (my eyes glaze over) stage now, but here are a few more bits and pieces regarding Ms. Gorelick's alleged conflict of interest:

  • According to a press release dated May 14, 2003, Ms. Gorelick is new to Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, having joined that firm effective July 1, 2003 — long after being appointed to the Commission, and indeed, after it was well into its work.  In fact, she announced her resignation from her previous job as Vice Chair of Fannie Mae back in January 2003 "to devote substantial time to the bipartisan national commission investigating the attacks of September 11, 2001 and to pursue other interests."  In deciding whether to bring in a lateral partner, big firms universally consider whether the "acquisition" will create new conflicts problems.  When exactly WC&P ran that drill isn't clear, but from their press release they obviously were aware of her pre-existing and ongoing participation in the Commission.  My gut tells me that sometime well prior to that May 14th press release, Ms. Gorelick and WC&P took a cold-eyed look at this whole conflicts question and decided to circle the wagons and weather all storms — as opposed to this being an "oopsies" moment for them.

  • Commission General Counsel Daniel Marcus "was for many years a partner in the Washington law firm of Wilmer, Cutler & Pickering, serving on the firm's Managment Committee from 1995 to 1998."  It's not farfetched to speculate that he might have had some role in putting Ms. Gorelick and his old firm together, but it's also entirely plausible that the connection was made independently.

  • Rather than presuming Ms. Gorelick's appointment was intended to permit her to be a continuing FOB or FOH ("Friend of Bill," "Friend of Hillary") on the Commission, Michel Chossudovsky speculates in the Online Journal that — based on Ms. Gorelick's "close working relationship with CIA Director George Tenet[, and] serv[ice] on the CIA's National Security Advisory Panel as well as on the President's Review of Intelligence" — she's intended instead to give the CIA its own "seat on the Commission" for whitewashing and coverup purposes.  This post gave me my "grassy knoll grin" for the day, thank you.

  • According to the AP on May 22, 2003: 

    To avoid the appearance of conflict of interest, three members of the 10-member commission – James R. Thompson, Gorelick and Ben-Veniste – will not participate in writing recommendations for commercial aviation, chairman Thomas H. Kean said. The three work for law firms that represent airlines.

    Eh.  These sort of half-measures satisfy no one and look more like a quasi-admission that something's wrong IMHO.

  • David Korn wrote this evaluation for The Nation on June 19, 2003: 

    It's a pretty typical composition for a Washington commission — mostly established and accomplished players, not mavericks, and several with strong ties to the current or previous Administrations — the targets, in a sense, of the commission. "It's been a problem throughout to get commissioners and staff who are truly independent," says Stephen Push, a co-founder of Families of September 11....  "This is what happens when you pick talented people with expertise in Washington," says one commission source. "Do you want people who have no experience at all?"

  • Per a Reuters report back on December 1, 2002:

    Former Democratic Sen. Mitchell, the commission vice chairman known for high-profile efforts to broker peace in the Middle East and Northern Ireland, said "yes, of course" he would drop clients that pose conflicts of interest at his New York law firm.

    "There are no conflicts to the best of my knowledge," he said. "But certainly, should someone that we, I personally or my law firm, is now representing that is a subject of this inquiry, then there would be no question about that.

    "Everyone should be assured that this is our highest priority. We will do whatever is necessary to conduct a very thorough investigation and to provide a report that can reassure the American people," Mitchell added. "And nothing will stand in the way of that."

    (Mitchell actually has been a partner in the Washington office of Baltimore-based Piper Rudnick since it merged with DC-based Verner, Liipfert, Bernhard, McPherson in September 2002.)  By December 11, 2002, however, Mitchell had withdrawn, as reported by CNN, to escape concerns about conflicts of interest:

    In a letter to congressional leaders, Mitchell said he stepped down because he does not want to sever ties with his law firm, which he said he had been urged to do to avoid a potential conflict of interest, and because the commission's work will take too much time.

    "Some have urged that I sever all ties to the law firm with which I am associated," Mitchell wrote. "Since I must work to support my family I cannot comply."

    The letter continued, "I take this action reluctantly, as I wanted very much to be a part of this important effort."

    Again, look at the timing:  With this history from Mitchell (and roughly simultaneous questions about conflicts on the part of Dr. Kissinger, the original nominee for Commission chair, before his withdrawal), I simply cannot believe that this issue is going to catch either Ms. Gorelick or WC&P by surprise.


UPDATE (Sat. Aug 9th):

Add Andrew Stuttaford at National Review Online's The Corner blog to those calling for Gorelick's resignation on the basis of Mr. Meredith's original blog.  I don't expect to see this on the Sunday morning talk shows, but I do predict it will hit the mainstream press by Monday at the latest.

UPDATE (Sun. Aug 10):

  • Under the subheadline "Too Smart for Fannie?", a glowing, gossipy July 2003 "Capitol Comment" piece from Washingtonian Online, reporting on her move to WC&P, notes that Ms. Gorelick

    ... abruptly left the number-two job at the Justice Department near the start of Bill Clinton’s second term, enticed by a seven-figure salary as vice chair at Fannie Mae.

    The word around town was that Gorelick wanted to make some big money before returning to government service in an Al Gore administration.

    Considered by many to be the smartest young lawyer to arrive in Washington in many years, Radcliffe grad Gorelick had served as general counsel at Defense and made a name for herself as a star litigator. Her name was mentioned as a Secretary of Defense or Attorney General under President Gore.

    It goes on to report that "[a]t Wilmer Cutler, Gorelick is expected to work in the firm’s expanded corporate-fraud area, headed by former SEC enforcement chief Bill McLucas."

  • In addition to General Counsel Daniel Marcus, former WC&P partner Steve Dunne serves as the Commission's Deputy General Counsel, with another former WC&P lawyer, Dana Hyde, also on the staff as counsel.  Hyde's also described as a former special assistant to the deputy attorney general in the Clinton administration, which sounds like he/she may have worked for Gorelick then.

  • Both Ms. Gorelick and Lloyd Cutler were, or perhaps still are, members of The Constitution Project, "a bipartisan project that urges restraint in the constitutional amendment process."  (She's still listed on their website as being at Fannie Mae.)

Posted by Beldar at 06:41 PM in Politics (2006 & earlier) | Permalink


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