David H. Laufman brings more than thirty years of distinguished service and achievement to his law practice in Washington, DC, including his most recent public service as Chief of the U.S. Department of Justice’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section.
Mr. Laufman concentrates on the defense of companies and individuals in federal criminal investigations and other government enforcement actions, as well as in congressional investigations, Inspector General investigations, professional misconduct investigations, and sensitive national security matters. He counsels companies and individuals regarding compliance with U.S. export control and economic sanctions laws, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), the Foreign Agents Registration Act (“FARA”), government contract laws, and government ethics laws. Partnering with large investigative and compliance firms, Mr. Laufman also conducts internal corporate investigations and is available to serve as a compliance monitor in cases where the government has required a monitor to resolve an enforcement matter.
Mr. Laufman has represented parties in numerous high-profile matters, including government investigations concerning the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of political advocacy organizations and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Tobacco's “Operation Fast and Furious.” He has also represented parties in federal criminal investigations of public corruption and procurement fraud, violations of U.S. export control and economic sanctions laws, leaks of classified information, the treatment of terrorism detainees, and computer crimes. Among Mr. Laufman's most notable achievements was his successful trial defense in the case of United States v. Alavi, in which the government had charged an Iranian-American engineer employed at a nuclear power plant in Arizona with violations of U.S. export control laws and other offenses related to the plant's computer software. Despite being retained as counsel only three weeks before trial, Mr. Laufman succeeded in obtaining a mistrial of the main charge in the case, resulting in the government's subsequent offer of a plea agreement to lesser charges that dramatically reduced the defendant's sentence.
In representing parties in federal criminal and other enforcement investigations, Mr. Laufman draws heavily on his multifaceted experience at the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ” or “Department”), where he has served as a federal prosecutor, a senior supervisory official, and at DOJ's highest operational and policy levels. As Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General from 2001 to 2003, he assisted in the day-to-day management of the Department and helped to coordinate DOJ's responses to the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. From 2003 to 2007, Mr. Laufman served as Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Eastern District of Virginia, where he prosecuted terrorism, export control, and other national security offenses. From 2010 to 2011, he served as a Special Trial Attorney to the Fraud Section at DOJ, where, on detail from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction (“SIGIR”), he investigated and prosecuted procurement fraud and corruption related to U.S. economic assistance to Iraq.
As Chief of DOJ’s Counterintelligence and Export Control Section from late 2014 to early 2018, Mr. Laufman had supervisory responsibility within DOJ for the investigation and prosecution of offenses concerning U.S. export controls and economic sanctions, atomic energy and counterproliferation, espionage, economic espionage, foreign agent registration and disclosure, and cyber intrusions and attacks by nation states and their proxies. In addition to these responsibilities, he oversaw the investigation of Hillary Clinton concerning allegations that classified information was improperly stored or transmitted on a personal email server during her tenure as Secretary of State. Prior to the appointment of Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller, III, Mr. Laufman also oversaw the investigation of Russian government efforts to influence the 2016 U.S. presidential election.
Mr. Laufman received several awards for his work as a federal prosecutor. In 2006, he received the John Marshall Award for Outstanding Legal Achievement, DOJ's highest award for excellence in litigation, for his trial work as lead prosecutor in the terrorism case United States v. Abu Ali. In 2007, Mr. Laufman received the FBI Director's Award for Outstanding Counterterrorism Investigation for his work in United States v. Khan (“the Virginia Jihad case”). In 2011, he received the Award for Excellence in Investigation from the Council of the Inspector Generals for Integrity and Efficiency for his work in the case of United States v. Ayesh, which resulted in new judicial precedent regarding the extraterritorial application of federal conflict-of-interest laws.
Mr. Laufman has devoted a substantial part of his career to national security affairs and has held Top Secret/SCI security clearances on multiple occasions. In the 1980s, he served as a military and political analyst in the Directorate of Intelligence at the Central Intelligence Agency. From 1990 to 1993, he was Deputy Minority Counsel to the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he participated in oversight investigations of the executive branch. From 2000 to 2001, he served as Staff Director and Deputy Chief Counsel to the Judicial Review Commission on Foreign Asset Control, a congressionally mandated body that examined the administration of U.S. laws governing the imposition of economic sanctions by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury. While serving as Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General from 2001 to 2003, Mr. Laufman served as the Department of Justice's representative to the National Security Council's Policy Coordinating Committee on Terrorist Financing, a sensitive inter-agency body that formulated intelligence and law enforcement policy and tactics regarding the designation of individuals and organizations suspected of financing al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.
In addition to his work in national security affairs, Mr. Laufman has extensive experience in government ethics and public corruption investigations. From 1992 to 1993, he served as Senior Associate Minority Counsel to the Task Force to Investigate Certain Allegations Concerning the Holding of American Hostages by Iran in 1980 (“October Surprise Task Force”), a special bipartisan panel of the U.S. House of Representatives. Subsequently, he served as Associate Independent Counsel in the Investigation Concerning the Search of William J. Clinton's Passport Files During the 1992 Presidential Election Campaign. From 1996 to 2000, Mr. Laufman served as Investigative Counsel to the Ethics Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives, where he conducted ethics investigations of Members of Congress and coordinated the sanctions hearing of then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. Following the Gingrich case, he played a central role in crafting and negotiating changes to the ethics rules of the House of Representatives in his capacity as Assistant to the Special Counsel to the Ethics Reform Task Force. Mr. Laufman also conducted professional misconduct investigations for the Office of Professional Responsibility at DOJ before becoming Chief of Staff to the Deputy Attorney General.
Mr. Laufman was born in Houston, Texas, where he attended St. John's School. He received his bachelor's degree in 1979 from the University of Pennsylvania, graduating magna cum laude with distinction in international relations. He received his law degree in 1987 from Georgetown University Law Center.
Mr. Laufman is the author of numerous publications and has provided expert commentary to prominent news organizations and programs, including The New York Times, the Washington Post, National Public Radio, PBS Newshour, BBC World News America, MSNBC, and CNN. His legal accomplishments also have been featured in the Wall Street Journal.