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Congressional investigations are high-profile and high-stakes matters involving significant business and reputational risks for companies and individuals. Congressional oversight never occurs in a vacuum, often involving parallel criminal and civil investigations by federal and state enforcement agencies and regulators as well as private civil litigation. These matters require a strategic, comprehensive response from experts who know Congress and how to navigate its uniquely challenging environment. Kaplan Hecker & Fink possesses the experience and expertise to help our clients through these investigations and mitigate the legal, business, and reputational risks that they pose.
We craft holistic strategies that frequently start well before our clients receive a subpoena for documents or sit for staff interviews, depositions, or hearings; and that decrease the probability that they will need to do so. These strategies include informal and formal negotiations with Congress, managing the discovery process, preparing clients to testify in Congressional hearings, depositions and staff interviews, advising on internal and external communications, and other crisis management.
Our lawyers are deeply familiar with the investigative committees in both chambers of Congress and have substantial expertise handling investigations on a broad range of topics and in a diverse range of industries. We know how these committees operate, we understand the political and media climates, and we have an insider’s perspective on how investigations are likely to proceed that comes from firsthand experience conducting these investigations from within Congress and from representing clients in these investigations.
Partner Susanne Sachsman Grooms is widely recognized as one of the nation’s foremost experts in congressional investigations, having led the investigative staff of the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Reform for more than a decade. Under Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney and her predecessor, Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, Susanne served as the deputy staff director and chief counsel, overseeing hundreds of high-profile investigations across the public and private sectors. She has played a leading role in the major congressional investigations of the past decade, including serving on the investigatory and Senate trial teams for both impeachments of former President Donald J. Trump, helping to establish and provide strategic counsel to the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis, and leading the Select Committee on Benghazi for Congressional Democrats. Susanne also provided strategic counsel to House leadership and multiple House and Senate Committees as a leading subject matter expert on subpoena enforcement, parallel civil and criminal investigations, interviews and depositions, and privilege issues. Oversight Committee Chairwoman Maloney has described Susanne as “a superb attorney with exceptional political judgment.”
Kaplan Hecker partner Joshua Matz likewise played a key role in the impeachments of former President Trump, serving as impeachment counsel to the House Judiciary Committee in the second Senate Trial, and serving among counsel to the Judiciary Committee for the first impeachment and trial. Professor Larry Tribe of Harvard Law School recently described Joshua as “the backbone of the legal efforts behind both impeachments” and Barry Berke, who served as chief impeachment counsel for the second impeachment trial, praised Joshua as “phenomenal,” telling the National Law Journal that Matz is “the most brilliant constitutional scholar [he has] ever worked with.” In addition, partner Marshall Miller previously managed the Department of Justice’s strategic response to Congress in his leadership role within the Department’s Criminal Division, including testifying on Capitol Hill, responding to Congressional investigative requests, and spearheading the successful Senate confirmation process of former U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch. Finally, our broader white collar and investigations practices count five former high-ranking federal prosecutors, all of whom bring their extensive government experience to bear to help our clients see around corners and reach successful outcomes when faced with complex legal exposure.
Prior to joining Kaplan Hecker, some of our lawyers’ representative Congressional Investigation matters included:
- Representing the former CEO of a pharmaceutical company in connection with a Senate investigation related to pricing issues.
- Representing the CEO of an investment fund in connection with Senate and House investigations relating to a portfolio company in the pharmaceutical sector.
- Representing a major pharmaceutical company and several of its personnel, including the VP of Medical Affairs, in connection with House and Senate investigations relating to drug safety concerns and associated potential shortcomings in the FDA approval process.
- Representing a mortgage servicer in connection with a House Financial Services Committee investigation relating to compliance with the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.
- Organizing the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis in April 2020, advising House leadership on its establishment, and providing strategic counsel on its investigations.
- Investigating prominent cybersecurity attacks, including the recent SolarWinds breach, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management breach, and breaches of private retail companies, financial institutions, credit reporting agencies, and federal contractors.
- Investigating the cause of the high costs of prescription drugs, including a comprehensive examination of a dozen drug companies and their pricing practices.
- Investigating numerous government officials and agencies for systemic and specific allegations of misconduct, race-based discrimination and harassment, sexual harassment and assault, and political and whistleblower retaliation.
- Investigating government contractors for waste, fraud, and abuse, including major defense contractors and contractors managing immigration detention centers.
- Investigating government stimulus programs and their use by various private industries, including the Department of Energy’s renewable energy loan guarantee program.
- Serving as the staff director and general counsel for Ranking Member Elijah E. Cummings on the Select Committee on Benghazi, playing a key role in the high-profile investigation that culminated in an 11-hour public hearing with former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
- Investigating the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives’ Operation Fast and Furious, which resulted in holding the Attorney General in criminal contempt of Congress and Congress pursuing civil litigation against the Department of Justice for documents.
- Investigating the cause of the failures of the launch of the Obamacare website, healthcare.gov.
- Investigating the decision by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) to approve the Uranium One transaction.
- Investigating Countrywide Financial Corporation’s VIP programs that provided discount loans to government and industry officials.
- Overseeing the Department of Justice’s response to Congressional inquiries, including with respect to asset forfeiture reform and IRS scrutiny of politically active non-profit groups.
- Leading a successful Senate confirmation process for the Attorney General of the United States.