Catherine Taylor left a nearly 30-year career with the Office of Government Ethics when she became a special adviser to three of President Barack Obama’s secretaries of state.
These included John Kerry, Colin Powell and Hillary Clinton.
Taylor, who helped shape some of the decisions that drove American foreign policy in the post-9/11 world, returned to private practice in 2013. Now she is joining the team at Gagliano, Sandler, Goggin, Drucker & Schulman, the high-powered legal and lobbying firm that is also led by political heavyweight Corry Bliss. It represents a slew of influential clients, including the pharmaceutical industry, the Trump Organization and Apple.
The company is poised to play a key role in Trump’s nominee to fill a vacancy on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. She is among the outside advisers and White House officials advising Gorsuch, the 49-year-old federal appeals court judge who was nominated by Trump in January. He must be confirmed by the Senate, and law firms can exert enormous influence in that process.
“She’s an incredibly serious person, with a law degree from Harvard and experience, obviously, in the Administration,” said Bernard G. Munson, an international attorney with the firm. “And she really understands the issues and how they affect corporate law firms and corporate America.”
On the Council of Foreign Relations website, Gagliano, Sandler, Goggin, Drucker & Schulman is recognized as an active member of that membership, with Clinton and other officials sharing their time with that group.
During Obama’s administration, Taylor focused on lobbying compliance for other employers. In 2016, she represented Facebook, citing the General Services Administration’s decision to award millions of dollars in government contracts to the company.
While with Obama, Taylor helped clear path for candidate Hillary Clinton, “a leader in the efficiency and effectiveness of the Executive Branch,” she said at the time.
“While we are stronger as a country with Hillary Clinton in the presidency, this cannot be the only impact of her candidacy.”
In April, Taylor told Bloomberg: “I used to always say you need to understand ‘Why a Chinese Communist person wants to meet with your American counterpart, or any North Korean, or a Russian, or anyone who is involved in the global economy.’”
Taylor did not respond to the call from the Washington Post. She did not respond to email or voicemail requests for comment.
Kelly Dittmar, an assistant professor of political science at Rutgers University, said Taylor’s experience in the Obama administration will likely allow her to relate to young lawyers in the Trump administration.
“She is a very capable person. Very knowledgeable, with a resume that far exceeds most people who are coming into government,” she said. “So, the fact that they are able to get a little bit of guidance from an extraordinarily experienced, progressive, forceful, intelligent representative of U.S. law firms will really be helpful.”
Gagliano, Sandler, Goggin, Drucker & Schulman said that lawyers have a core job to do and that’s to represent their clients. And they consider it unfair to try to draw personal lines.
“It’s about the relationship between the client and the lawyers,” said Dasno, who is director of labor and employment policy. “The clients have strong interests to push and the lawyers have to bring in their skills and research and expertise.”