Axios Sneak Peek

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March 10, 2022

Welcome back to Sneak. A chaotic day between the dreary D.C. weather, House retreat machinations and the on-again, off-again Polish plane deal.

Smart Brevityβ„’ count: 1,062 words ... 4 minutes. Edited by Glen Johnson.

1 big thing: Big Law's Russia exodus

Illustration of an EXIT sign with a gavel forming the "T"
Illustration: AΓ―da Amer/Axios

Large law firms are cutting ties with Russian clients and even shuttering their Moscow offices as U.S. and European sanctions hit blue-chip clients, and Russia's cut off from segments of the global financial system, Axios' Lachlan Markay and Sarah Mucha report.

Why it matters: Big Law is just one of a host of sectors fleeing Russia amid its invasion of Ukraine. But its exit could deprive oligarchs and Russian multinationals of vital services connecting them to business and financial systems.

  • American and European law firms have been central to Russia's integration into the global economy.
  • Firms based in London, New York and other business hubs have brokered massive deals and structured billions in assets.

Driving the news: Axios contacted 30 major American and European law firms with offices in Moscow and St. Petersburg β€” some with hundreds of attorneys there β€” to see if they plan to maintain their presences in Russia.

  • At least five firms β€” the London-headquartered Linklaters, Norton Rose Fulbright and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Helsinki's Borenius; and the American firm Morgan, Lewis & Bockius β€” plan to shutter their Russian offices entirely.
  • Another, Swedish firm Mannheimer Swartling, said it has suspended operations in Russia and is "analyzing" whether to exit the country.
  • Three firms β€” New York's Cleary Gottlieb, Chicago's Winston & Strawn and Amsterdam's Houthoff β€” said they will drop all Russian government and state-sponsored clients.
  • New York's Debevoise & Plimpton said it has "taken action to terminate several client relationships," is not taking on new clients at its Moscow office and is "conducting a review of the status" of that office.
  • White & Case, another New York firm, is keeping its Moscow office open but officials said they "continue to review our Russian and Belarusian client activity and are exiting some representations in accordance with our professional responsibilities."
  • Clifford Chance, another London-headquartered firm, says it will not take on new Russia work, and will "review" existing work to ensure it aligns with sanctions and "our responsible business principles and values."
  • Two other firms β€” London's Allen & Overy and Hogan Lovells, co-headquartered in London and Washington β€” also said they'll drop clients that don't align with "our values" but did not elaborate.

Keep reading.

2. Scoop: Pence took Adelson private jet to Israel

Former President Trump is seen presenting the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Miriam Adelson in 2018.
President Trump presents the Presidential Medal of Freedom to Miriam Adelson in 2018. Photo: Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Mike Pence flew to Israel this week on the private jet owned by arguably the most powerful donor in Republican politics, Miriam Adelson, two sources familiar with the situation told Axios' Jonathan Swan and Lachlan.

Why it matters: The former vice president, who fell out with Donald Trump because he refused the former president's demands to unilaterally overturn the 2020 election result, is contemplating challenging Trump in the 2024 GOP presidential primaries.

  • A close relationship with Adelson β€” widow of former casino mogul and megadonor Sheldon Adelson β€” could potentially bring tens of millions of dollars to a pro-Pence political machine.
  • Pence currently trails well behind Trump in speculative 2024 polls of Republican voters.

The big picture: The Adelsons gave more than half a billion dollars to Republican campaigns, party organs and interest groups during the past five election cycles, topping out at nearly $220 million during the 2020 cycle.

  • Trump benefitted considerably from that largesse. And he reciprocated, awarding Miriam Adelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018.
  • It remains to be seen how heavily she'll spend after her husband's death last year. Her only political donation last year was $5,000 to the PAC for former UN ambassador Nikki Haley, herself a prospective 2024 candidate.
  • But Republicans are optimistic Adelson will spend big because she was every bit as enthusiastic a political operator as her late husband, according to lawmakers who've met privately with the couple over the years.

What they're saying: Pence's senior adviser Marc Short declined comment to Axios.

  • Adelson adviser Andy Abboud also declined comment.

Keep reading.

3. Charted: House fundraising

Data: FEC; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

The top fundraisers in the House have something in common: high profiles.

Why it matters: In a chamber with four times more members than the Senate, having a title, unique brand or loud voice is a proven way to raise money as a candidate in the House, Sarah also writes.

  • In this year's Senate campaigns, donations are mostly flowing to tough-to-win states, as Axios reported last night.
  • And Democratic challengers are outpacing incumbents in their states.

Key takeaways: Republicans need only a net gain of five seats this fall to take over the House. Their coffers are well-stocked.

  • Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas), a powerhouse fundraiser who brought in the most money apart from the two party leaders, told Fox News he intends to give most of it to other Republican candidates across the country.
  • Besides Crenshaw, many of the top Republican fundraisers objected to the 2020 election results.
  • They include House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, House Minority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) β€” one of the most vocal critics.

Another thing rank-and-file members share: the ability to be heard, either because of how loud they can speak or the prominence of their reputation, as Greene has shown.

Keep reading.

4. Worthy of your time

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is seen looking on as tennis star Billie Jean King speaks as part of Women's History Month.
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi listens as Billie Jean King speaks at an event in the Capitol focused on Title IX and commemorating Women's History Month. Photo: Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images

πŸ‘₯ Reps. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), Tony Gonzales (R-Texas) and Chuck Fleischmann (R-Tenn.) are starting a Border Security Technology Caucus. It will "improve the enforcement of America’s immigration laws and bring our border security strategy into the 21st century," according to a news release obtained by Axios' Andrew Solender.

🐘 House Minority Leader McCarthy said during a press conference he had a conversation with Rep. Greene about her attending a white nationalist conference this month and that she "will not again."

πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss paid a visit to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi ahead of a planned vote in the House on a sanctions package against Russia for its invasion of Ukraine.

πŸ“Š A Fox News poll shows a new front-runner in the GOP primary for U.S. Senate in Ohio: Investment banker and former Senate candidate Mike Gibbons leads former state Treasurer Josh Mandel 22% to 20%, with author and venture capitalist J.D. Vance trailing at 11%.

πŸ“ˆ Another Fox poll has former hedge fund CEO David McCormick pulling ahead of television personality Dr. Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania's GOP Senate primary, with 24% of the vote to Oz's 15%.

5. Pic du jour

A rain-soaked dog is seen sitting in the Senate subway car.
Photo: Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

As has been (disputably) attributed to Harry Truman, "If you want a friend in Washington ..."

  • This rain-soaked pup was seen on the Senate subway.
  • Email us at [email protected] if you know its name and owner.

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