Trump lawyer salaries revealed as Squire Patton Boggs seals alliance with president's personal adviser


The White House’s staff financial disclosures, released this weekend, have offered a rare glimpse inside the wallets of some of Washington DC’s most well known lawyers.

Within the disclosures, the lawyers – who formerly worked at firms including Jones Day, Dentons, Kirkland & Ellis and Davis Polk & Wardwell – list nearly all of the clients who have hired them for legal advice.

Donald McGahn, White House counsel, a former Jones Day election-law partner, reported a partnership compensation of $2.4m (£1.9m). McGahn, who was general counsel to Trump’s presidential campaign, said in the report that he is still owed compensation and capital from the firm, which merged with Squire Sanders in 2014.

The 21 clients McGahn identified in his disclosure report included the National Rifle Association, Citizens United Foundation, Republican National Committee and Aaron Schock, the disgraced Illinois congressman who resigned in 2015 amid an investigation into alleged misuse of campaign and public funds.

Gregory Katsas, deputy counsel to the president, raked in nearly $3.9m (£3.1m) last year as a Jones Day partner, buoyed by a 10-client roster including RJ Reynolds, Chevron, Procter & Gamble, the US House of Representatives and United Parcel Service.

Katsas said he received the money in his Jones Day capital account when he left the firm for the administration, while he also received a departure bonus that was determined by managing partner Steve Brogan.

Katsas’ filing also noted that Jones Day’s retirement benefits will leave him $28,000 (£22,500) a year until one month before he dies.

William McGinley, cabinet secretary, earned about $1.5m (£1.2m) from his Jones Day partnership, according to his disclosure report, along with $2,500 (£2,000) from the George Washington University Law School, where he worked as a lecturer. He got money from his Jones Day capital account when he left the firm, but because McGinley had only been at Jones Day since 2014, he was not yet eligible for the firm’s defined benefit retirement plan.

Stefan Passantino, deputy counsel to the president, made almost $600,000 (£480,000) as a partner at Dentons last year, where his client roster listed 73 groups and companies, including his own firm, and four that are undisclosed because of non-public investigations.

One client was Gingrich Productions, the multimedia production company of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and his wife, Callista. Gingrich, a prominent Trump supporter, works as a senior adviser in Dentons’ public policy and regulation practice.

Passantino’s Dentons salary and bonus for the first three weeks of January 2017 was about $60,000 (£48,000). He explained: “This bonus amount was calculated by formula pursuant to firm policy and is solely based upon my performance in 2016 and not upon my future employment with the US government.”

Passantino also said he expects the return of $254,000 (£204,000) of his capital contributions, without interest, from now until next April. He joined Dentons in 2015 when his previous firm, McKenna Long & Aldridge, merged with the global firm.

John Eisenberg, National Security Council legal adviser and deputy counsel for national security affairs, made $1m (£800,000) last year for his work for 18 clients at Kirkland & Ellis. The firm’s profits per partner reached about $4m (£3.2m) last year, according to reporting by ALM.

The eight-year Kirkland partner identifies those payments in his disclosure as compensation and bonus – making no note of firm profit distributions he collected – though he does describe a defined contribution plan he has with the firm that received a $35,000 (£28,000) matched payment before he left. His clients included corporate giants such as BP America, Boeing and GM, and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico.

James Burnham, senior associate counsel to the president, reported receiving a salary and bonus totaling $810,000 (£650,000) from Jones Day, where he had worked as an associate since October 2010.

Ann Donaldson, special counsel to the president and chief of staff to the White House counsel, received a salary of $267,000 (£214,000) as a third-year associate at Jones Day in the year leading up to her White House appointment.

Schuyler Schouten, special assistant to the president and associate White House counsel, made $342,693 (£275,000) during her second year as an associate at Davis Polk & Wardwell, representing several banks, including Bank of America, Bank of China, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and JPMorgan Chase. Schouten also did work for Goldman Sachs, whose alumni have come to fill a number of roles in the Trump administration.

Michael-CohenSeparately, Michael Cohen (pictured), a personal lawyer to President Trump who started his own firm two weeks ago, has formed a strategic alliance with global legal giant Squire Patton Boggs.

The deal makes official a link between the president and foreign and corporate interests, many of whom rely on Squire Patton Boggs for legal and lobbying counsel. A press release by the firm said it would partner with Michael D Cohen & Associates to “advance the interests” of its clients.

Cohen, a former partner at New York law firm Phillips Nizer, is listed in New York court records as working for the Trump Organization, though the firm Michael D Cohen & Associates was registered as a business on 21 March.

Though it remains unclear exactly how the strategic alliance will work, a statement from Squire Patton Boggs chairman and global CEO Mark Ruehlmann said the arrangement would benefit clients by bringing together Cohen and the firm’s lobbyists, including Trent Lott and John Breaux, two former US senators who merged their former lobbying shop into legacy firm Patton Boggs in 2010.

Cohen was among the stronger voices in Trump’s circle to push back after the publication of an intelligence dossier alleging potential Russian blackmail of the president, calling it “fake news”.

In the dossier, an individual with the same name as Cohen was alleged to have met with Russian officials in Prague in August 2016, though the lawyer tweeted a photo of the front cover of his passport, claiming that he had never visited the Czech Republic and was in Southern California at the time of the alleged meeting. Cohen also told Yahoo News that he had never been to Russia.