Lawyers from three prominent law firms were involved in the recent challenge of a decision by federal prosecutors in Virginia to bring charges against Gov. Robert McDonnell (R) and his wife.
According to The Washington Post, Justice Department officials, including Deputy Attorney General James Cole, met with McDonnell's lawyers on Dec. 12. Prosecutors originally intended to bring charges no later than this week, the Post reported, but delayed that decision following the meeting.
A person familiar with the investigation confirmed to Legal Times that Henry "Hank" Asbill of Jones Day and John Brownlee of Holland & Knight, lawyers for McDonnell, were at the meeting. Maureen McDonnell's attorney, William Burck of Quinn Emmanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, was also present.
Lawyers for the McDonnells bring extensive white collar defense experience.
Asbill, a partner at Jones Day, has a national white-collar defense practice. Brownlee, the former U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia, is chairman of Holland & Knight's white-collar defense and investigations practice and a member of the firm's directors committee. Burck is the co-leader of Quinn's Washington office and chairman of the firm's white-collar and corporate investigations practice.
On the government's side, according to the source-who confirmed the meeting's attendees on the condition of anonymity-Cole was accompanied by senior staffers, Acting U.S. Attorney Dana Boente of the Eastern District of Virginia, criminal division chief Robert Wiechering, and lead prosecutor Michael Dry.
Neil MacBride, the former U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, in early 2012 described Wiechering, who replaced David Novak as the criminal division chief, as a “backbone” of the prosecutors’ office. Dry, the deputy criminal division chief, previously was the district-wide corporate and securities fraud coordinator.
Representatives of the U.S. attorney's office and Main Justice declined to comment. Lawyers for the McDonnells declined to comment or could not immediately be reached.
McDonnell has come under scrutiny for his relationship with Jonnie Williams Sr., chief executive officer of Star Scientific Inc., a company that develops dietary supplements. McDonnell, who has denied wrongdoing, was set to face charges that he and his wife illegally promoted the company in exchange for gifts and loans, the Post reported.
McDonnell will finish his term as governor and leave office in early January. According to the Post, the lawyers for the McDonnells argued at last week's meeting that the governor did not act improperly. If prosecutors did end up filing charges, the defense attorneys asked for a delay until after McDonnell left office so as to not interfere with Gov.-elect Terry McAulliffe's (D) transition.