Pedestrians pass in front of Trump Tower in New York, U.S. (Photographer: Allison Joyce/Bloomberg)

Trump Organization Asks House Committee to Halt Investigation

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s family business told the House Judiciary Committee it should stop investigating the Trump Organization, claiming a conflict of interest after the committee hired a lawyer whose firm has represented the company.

Alan Futerfas, an outside lawyer for the Trump Organization, made the demand in a letter Monday to House Judiciary Chairman Jerrold Nadler. Futerfas said the committee’s hiring of Barry Berke, of the Manhattan law firm Kramer Levin, tainted the investigation because Berke’s firm has represented the company "with respect to virtually every aspect of its business" for more than 25 years.

Berke, co-chairman of the firm’s litigation department, was hired earlier this month as a "consulting counsel" to the Judiciary Committee. He’s an expert on federal criminal law, including public corruption, banking, tax fraud and insider-trading cases. Futerfas said the lawyer’s work for the Judiciary Committee "is in direct conflict" with Kramer Levin’s representation of Trump.

The Judiciary Committee said in a statement that Berke is "serving as a consultant to the committee in his personal capacity. The assertions in the Trump letter are without merit.”

The Kramer Levin law firm dismissed Futerfas’s "baseless accusations" in a statement that said Berke’s work for congressional investigators "does not pose any conflicts of interest and respects any obligations the firm may have."

Kramer Levin said none of its lawyers are working on Trump-related matters. Futerfas’s letter "grossly misstated the facts of our prior representations and how the applicable ethical rules apply to those facts," the firm said in the statement.

Futerfas also wrote to House Oversight Chairman Elijah Cummings on Friday, saying the Trump Organization won’t answer the panel’s questions until the committee first discloses information on any contacts it may have had with Berke. Berke’s assistance to the panel in investigating Trump and his family business "raises significant legal concerns that cannot be ignored," Futerfas wrote to Cummings, a Maryland Democrat.

A spokesman for Cummings directed inquiries to Nadler’s committee.

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