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Trump CIA chief joins King & Spalding's bench of U.S. agency alums

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  • Gina Haspel joins a crowded field of former officials at the Atlanta-based firm
  • She’ll be a senior adviser on national security and risk matters

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(Reuters) – King & Spalding continues to build up its ranks of former federal government officials, announcing Thursday that it has added former U.S. Central Intelligence Agency director Gina Haspel to its national security team in Washington, D.C.

As a senior adviser with the Atlanta-based firm, Haspel will advise clients on institutional risk management, national security issues and other matters, King & Spalding said.

“Operating in a dynamic global economy means our clients must be positioned to assess and manage risk,” Zach Fardon, a former Chicago U.S. attorney who now leads the firm’s government matters practice, said in a statement.

A King & Spalding representative said Haspel was unavailable for comment on her move.

Haspel is the latest former high-level U.S. government official to join King & Spalding, which counts Washington as its second largest office and has become both a prime supplier of and landing pad for prominent appointees.

From the Trump era, the firm’s hires have included former director of national intelligence Dan Coats, former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and former FBI chiefs of staff Paul Murphy and Zack Harmon. Sally Yates, an Obama appointee who was fired as Acting Attorney General for refusing to enforce then-U.S. President Donald Trump’s January 2017 refugee travel ban, re-joined the firm in 2018.

“King & Spalding’s corporate, private equity, family office, and other global clients will benefit from Gina’s unique capability to manage risk,” Harmon, who heads the firm’s national security team, said in a statement on Haspel’s hire.

King & Spalding was among law firms targeted by the People’s Parity Project, a law student-founded activist group, for hiring Rosenstein and other former Trump administration lawyers. The group cited the administration’s “attacks on immigrants, civil rights, and democracy.”

Haspel served as CIA director under former U.S. President Donald Trump from 2018 until January of this year, the first woman to serve in that role. Her nomination was opposed by several senators, however, including the late John McCain, due to her oversight of a secret CIA prison in Thailand where detainees were tortured in 2002.

King & Spalding did not respond to a request for comment on whether it considered the controversy in vetting her hire.

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David Thomas reports on the business of law, including law firm strategy, hiring, mergers and litigation. He is based out of Chicago. He can be reached at d.thomas@thomsonreuters.com and on Twitter @DaveThomas5150.