A U.S. Justice Department lawyer who served in Lanny Breuer’s front office in the Criminal Division is leaving his post this week and will return to Covington & Burling in July.
Daniel Suleiman, the deputy chief of staff and counselor to assistant attorney general, has worked for nearly three years in the division. Suleiman also oversees the office of policy and legislation and the office of administration. He will return to Covington as special counsel on July 1.
Suleiman left Covington for Main Justice in 2010 to serve as counsel to Breuer, who was then the head of the Criminal Division. In March, Breuer, one of the longest-serving Criminal Division leaders in DOJ history, rejoined Covington in newly-created role of vice-chairman of the firm.
"I was lucky enough to convince Dan over two and half years ago to join me at the Department of Justice," Breuer said. "Now that I'm back at Covington & Burling, I was doubly thrilled to convince Dan to yet again join me."
In addition to his role as counselor, Breuer said that Suleiman helped him draft speeches and complimented his writing.
On a day-to-day basis, Suleiman would interact with others in the Justice Department, members of Congress, their staff and White House officials. Much of his focus at DOJ was centered on the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and financial fraud enforcement. Suleiman said that working in the Criminal Division was the highlight of his professional career so far.
Before decamping for Main Justice, Suleiman focused his practice at Covington on white collar criminal defense, civil litigation and international arbitration. Suleiman said he will focus largely on white collar matters when he returns to private practice.
In an interview, Suleiman talked about his work at DOJ, including serving as co-leader of a criminal investigation into Goldman Sachs Group Inc. DOJ lawyers said in a public statement in August 2012 that “the burden of proof to bring a criminal case could not be met based on the law and facts.” The investigation was rooted in a congressional report about the financial crisis.
"We would have brought that case if we could have," Suleiman said. "The department publicly declined it because we didn't have the evidence. I know that the attorney general and the department have looked into these matters and are absolutely committed to investigating and prosecuting financial crime whether it is on Wall Street or Main Street."
Following the rare public declination, Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations, said in a statement that “whether the decision by the Department of Justice is the product of weak laws or weak enforcement, Goldman Sachs’ actions were deceptive and immoral.”
Breuer and Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. were criticized in the aftermath of the financial crisis for the department's failure to prosecute top Wall Street officials.
"I would say that Lanny and the department more broadly, including Attorney General Holder, have made fighting corruption a real priority of the Justice Department," Suleiman said. "What the division has accomplished in four years is nothing short of remarkable."
Last week, Mythili Raman, the acting head of the DOJ Criminal Division, defended the department’s fight against financial fraud. Raman, testifying on Capitol Hill, said the size of a financial institution “does not equal immunity.”