One of the world’s largest and most prestigious law firms may have attracted the scrutiny of special counsel Robert Mueller’s inquiry into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.
Two sources with knowledge of the probe told The New York Times that the Department of Justice (DOJ) has asked Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, colloquially known simply as “Skadden,” to furnish documents related to its work for deposed Ukrainian strongman Viktor Yanukovych.
The request is likely connected to Mueller’s ongoing investigation of Paul Manafort, the former Trump campaign chairman on whom the inquiry is intensely focused. Manafort commissioned the firm to prepare a report defending Yanukovych’s prosecution of his chief political antagonist, Yulia Tymoshenko, for corruption. Other lobbyists retained by the Yanukovych regime burnished the report as part of a strategy to assuage concerns about Ukraine’s human rights record in western capitals.
The firm’s lead attorney on the project was Gregory Craig, who served as White House Counsel during the Obama administration.
DOJ investigators appear to be working in tandem with Ukranian officials, who have expressed concerns that Skadden’s work was illegally financed by Yanukovych’s government.
The report was completed just weeks before Manafort’s daughter was retained as an associate at Skadden, according to TheNYT.
The firm refunded the Ukrainian government in June for nearly $600,000, apparently returned because the regime paid up front for work which was never completed.
Mueller has aggressively pursued Manafort and his associates in recent months, issuing subpoenas compelling testimony from spokesman Jason Maloni and Melissa Laurenza, formerly Manafort’s personal counsel, and staging a dawn raid of Manafort’s home in Alexandria, Va. The special counsel’s staff has reportedly informed Manafort that they plan to indict him.
Based in New York City, Skadden employs some 1,700 attorneys across 22 offices. It generates more than $2 billion in revenue annually.
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