The client list of Marc E. Kasowitz, the lawyer President Donald Trump chose to represent him in the ongoing Russia probe, includes a prominent Russian businessman and a Russian bank, The Washington Post reported Friday.
For a number of years, Kasowitz has represented Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska, who has close ties to Russian President Vladimir Putin, as well as Sberbank, Russia's largest state-owned bank, the Post noted.
It's not the first time Trump has turned to Kasowitz, known for his brash scrappy courtroom persona. Kasowitz worked on a debt restructuring plan for Trump's casinos in 2001 and also on a case against an author that ended in 2011.
Trump hired Kasowitz in late May, two days before the attorney was scheduled to represent one of Deripaska's companies in court, but another lawyer with the firm appeared instead.
Deripaska had business dealings with Trump's former campaign manager, Paul Manafort, who set up a fund in the Cayman Islands that bought assets primarily in Ukraine. The Associated Press in March reported Manafort "secretly worked for" Deripaska, who has denied that claim and last month sued AP for libel.
Sergey Gorkov, a former executive with Sberbank, now at another Russian financial institution, met with Trump's son-in-law and adviser Jared Kushner in December. Kushner's interactions with that banker are under FBI investigation as well.
This could cause complications in the federal probe into Russian involvement in the 2016 presidential election campaign and charges of collusion with Trump aides, according to one legal expert.
"If the behavior of a Russian client of the firm or its relationship with Trump becomes an issue in the investigation, a conflict could arise," said Stephen Gillers of New York University Law School, an expert on legal ethics.
The White House had no comment on the matter, but Michael J. Bowe, a law partner of Kasowitz, said the representations for Trump and the Russian clients were "totally unrelated."
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