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Trump Looks to O’Melveny Partner for VP Vetting

May 19, 2016, 2:47 PM

In less than two months, Donald Trump is expected to announce his running mate at the Republican National Convention, and he’s turning to an old hand at O’Melveny & Myers to help vet potential candidates.

A.B. Culvahouse Jr. visited Trump’s aides in the Trump Tower in Manhattan on Wednesday to discuss the role, Bloomberg Politics reported , citing people familiar with the matter.

Based in Washington, D.C., Culvahouse chaired O’Melveny from 2000 to 2012, and continues to work there, listing a half-dozen areas of focus from white collar criminal defense and investigations to political strategy.

His distinguished resume doesn’t stop there: As a counsel to President Ronald Reagan, he advised on federal judicial nominees, the Iran-Contra investigations and nuclear force policy, according to his O’Melveny bio.

One thing that’s not listed on the bio: Culvahouse helped Sen. John McCain vet Sarah Palin in his 2008 bid for the presidency. Afterward, McCain’s chief strategist Steve Schmidt was highly critical of the vetting process.

Schmidttold the Washington Post in 2011, “I think it showed a process of vetting that was debilitated by secrecy, that was compartmentalized, that failed, that led to a result that was reckless for the country. And I think when you look back at that race, you see this person who is just so phenomenally talented at so many levels, an ability to connect. But also someone who had a lot of flaws as someone running to be in the national command authority who clearly wasn’t prepared.”

Trump may feel differently: He has thanked Palin for her support of his campaign. Bloomberg also notes that Trump has said publicly he’s relying on multiple people for the vetting process, including Ben Carson and his campaign manager Corey Lewandowski “though neither has the legal qualifications that are essential” to the process.

Culvahouse also publicly explained the process used to pick Palin in the Wall Street Journal in 2012, noting he asked for “tax returns, medical histories, financial statements, court records” and asked personal questions about infidelity, drug addiction, and credit history. He advised McCain she was “high risk, high reward,” Culvahouse wrote.

Big Law Business has reached out to Culvahouse but has not yet heard back, we’ll update this post if he does call.