Michael Atkinson, a former inspector general fired by President Trump after his work led to the first impeachment, is joining Crowell & Moring as a partner.
Atkinson will co-lead the firm’s national security practice, working in areas such as economic espionage, cybersecurity and foreign investment in U.S. companies.
The firm’s decision to hire him is “a combination of broadmindedness and boldness,” Atkinson said in an interview.
Crowell & Moring is adding Atkinson more than a month after becoming the first Big Law firm to urge Trump to immediately leave office after the U.S. Capitol riot. Firm chair Phil Inglima asked firms to support invoking the 25th Amendment to declare Trump unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.
His hire is part of the firm’s expansion as it emerged from 2020 in a stronger position than it expected. Crowell & Moring plans more additions to broaden practices including regulatory and litigation.
A Justice Department veteran who worked in both the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations, Atkinson was appointed by the White House as the intelligence community watchdog in 2018.
He triggered Trump’s fury for forwarding to Congress a whistle-blower complaint he received in August 2019 alleging that Trump had tried to coerce Ukraine’s government into announcing investigations of Vice President Joe Biden and his son, Hunter.
Congress then began the investigation that led to Trump’s first impeachment in December 2019. Atkinson testified as part of the inquiry.
Two months after the Senate acquitted the president, Trump ousted Atkinson in April 2020, notifying congressional intelligence leaders late on a Friday.
Atkinson has “uncompromised integrity,” Inglima said in a statement. “He knows how to effectively interface with critical constituencies for clients, including Congress, the intelligence community, and other state and federal enforcement agencies.”
In his new role he’ll work with Paul Rosen, a former chief of staff at the Department of Homeland Security in the Obama administration, and Adelicia Cliffe, who is a partner working in foreign investment, international trade and government contracts.
Atkinson was a Winston & Strawn partner in white collar and complex litigation before joining the Justice Department in 2002. He prosecuted cases involving the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act; fraud by federal lawmakers; and “Operation Five Aces,” one of the largest domestic bribery cases involving federal contractors.
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