Kevin M. Downing

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Kevin M. Downing is an American attorney. He has previously worked for the United States Department of Justice Tax Division and as a partner for the law firm of Miller & Chevalier.

Career[edit]

Downing graduated with a B.S. in accounting from St. Joseph's University in 1988. He received his J.D. cum laude from St. John's University in 1994 and his LL.M. in tax law at the New York University School of Law in 1996.[1]

Downing worked in the United States Department of Justice from 1997 to 2012 in the Tax Division, serving first as a trial attorney in the Western Criminal Enforcement Section and then as senior litigation counsel.[1] At the Justice Department, Downing handled cases involving tax evasion via offshore financial vehicles and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) violations. Downing was the federal prosecutor who handled the KPMG tax shelter fraud case and a case involving allegations that the Swiss bank UBS AG used its private bank division to aid wealthy U.S. nationals evade taxes. Both cases ended in deferred prosecution agreements in 2005. In 2009, Downing was awarded the John Marshall Award by the Department of Justice for his role in the UBS case.[2] In 2012, Reuters described Downing as "the U.S. prosecutor most responsible for piercing the veil of Swiss bank secrecy".[3]

Downing left DOJ in June 2012 to become a partner at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Miller & Chevalier, where he remained until August 2017.[4] When he joined the firm, he told Reuters that his practice at Miller & Chevalier would involve advising financial institutions on how to comply with the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) of 2010.[3] According to his firm biography, his work focused on "criminal and civil tax matters" as well as money laundering, white collar, and FCPA matters.[1]

Representation of Paul Manafort in the 2017 Special Counsel investigation[edit]

Downing represents Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, in the currently ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 United States elections as well as possible collusion between Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign and the Russian government. In 2017, former FBI director Robert Mueller was selected by Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein to serve as the special prosecutor overseeing the Special Counsel investigation following the dismissal of James Comey by President Trump. On July 26, 2017, the Federal Bureau of Investigation executed a no-knock search warrant on Manafort's northern Virginia home a day after the former campaign manager had met with the Senate Intelligence Committee.[5] After the raid, Manafort switched legal firms to Miller & Chevalier, hiring Downing in August.[6][7] Subsequently, Downing left Miller & Chevalier two weeks after taking on representation of Manafort, and continued to represent Manafort after leaving the firm.[4]

On October 30, 2017, Manafort and long-time business partner as well as Trump campaign associate Rick Gates were the first two individuals to be publicly indicted as a result of the 2017 special counsel investigation. Following Manafort's initial hearing, at which Manafort pleaded not guilty, Downing told the media that "There is no evidence that Mr. Manafort or the Trump campaign colluded with the Russian government."[8]

The New York Times reported on November 27, 2018, that Downing continued sharing information about Manafort's legal matters with Trump's attorneys, pursuant to a joint defense agreement, after Manafort had entered a plea and cooperation agreement with Mueller prosecutors.[9] Although such joint defense agreements are not unusual or unlawful, they must be stopped if they create a conflict of interest, as it would be unethical for attorneys to collaborate when one of their clients is cooperating with prosecutors while another client is the subject of a continuing investigation. Attorneys for Michael Flynn had ended their joint defense agreement with Trump's attorneys when Flynn entered plea negotiations with Mueller.[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Kevin M. Downing, Miller & Chevalier Chartered (version of November 13, 2016).
  2. ^ "Attorney General Holder Recognizes Department Employees and Others for Their Service at Annual Awards Ceremony". United States Department of Justice. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  3. ^ a b Browning, Lynnley (June 4, 2012). "U.S. tax prosecutor Downing resigns, joins Miller & Chevalier". Reuters.
  4. ^ a b Katelyn Polantz, Paul Manafort's Lawyer Leaves His Firm Two Weeks After Taking Case, National Law Journal (August 27, 2017).
  5. ^ "The FBI raided Paul Manafort's house". NYPost.com. August 9, 2017. Retrieved December 12, 2017.
  6. ^ Bertrand, Natasha. "Paul Manafort spokesman: 'He's girding himself for a long legal battle'". Business Insider. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  7. ^ Faulders, Katherine. "Meet the legal team defending former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort". ABC News. ABC. Retrieved November 27, 2018.
  8. ^ "Manafort attorney: No evidence client colluded with Russia". Reuters. October 30, 2017.
  9. ^ "Manafort's Lawyer Said to Brief Trump Attorneys on What He Told Mueller". Retrieved November 28, 2018.
  10. ^ "A Split From Trump Indicates That Flynn Is Moving to Cooperate With Mueller". Retrieved November 28, 2018.