“Mr. Chairman, I cannot help but get a feeling that a strategy of the witnesses is to try to burn through the time of each questioner,” Sen. Susan Collins said during last week’s Goldman Sachs hearing before the Senate.
Was this a reference to a story I wrote last year for The American Lawyer about, K. Lee Blalack II, a partner at O’Melveny & Myers who was reportedly retained by Goldman?
My story was about a group of lawyers who specialize in guiding firms and individuals who are in the crosshairs of the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations (PSI), perhaps the most powerful investigative committee on Capitol Hill.
Blalack is a former chief counsel to the subcommittee, a job once held by Bobby Kennedy and Roy Cohn, where he learned how effective a tactic delay can be:
So to avoid having his client get buried, how does Blalack prepare him or her for a day before the committee? He tells them that the congressional hearing room is not a forum for getting at the truth. Don’t get on a soapbox. A day in the klieg lights should end with minimal damage to reputation while not complicating a client’s position in other investigations or litigation. Blalack says a well-trained witness can minimize exposure by simply running out the clock: “Long, thoughtful pauses followed by rambling nonresponsive answers can easily devour half of a member’s allotted questioning time.”
Talking Points Memo said this quote explains Goldman’s entire strategy during the PSI hearing..
But I wonder if Collins had her tongue firmly pressed in her check. The woman from Maine has served on PSI for the past 13 years and is no stranger to the Kabuki-like drama of these hearings.
Her chief counsel? None other than K. Lee Blalack.