Brandon L. Van Grack

Partner | Washington, D.C. | (202) 778-1447
(202) 778-1447

Brandon L. Van Grack co-chairs Morrison Foerster’s National Security and Global Risk + Crisis Management groups. His practice focuses on investigations, criminal defense, and compliance matters involving sanctions and export controls, foreign investment, and cyber incidents. Brandon’s arrival to Morrison Foerster follows more than a decade of service at the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), where he held multiple senior national security positions. In those positions, he helped identify and manage the U.S. government’s tools to address perceived national security threats in China and Russia, oversaw every criminal investigation involving sanctions and export controls, was Chief of DOJ’s Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA) Unit, and served as a lead prosecutor for Special Counsel Robert S. Mueller III’s investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.

Brandon’s leadership and breadth of national security experience offers clients in the financial services, technology, healthcare, defense, media, and communications sectors unmatched insider enforcement perspective across the entire national security landscape, including sanctions, the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), export control, cybersecurity matters, and FARA.

Investigations & White Collar Defense

At the DOJ, Brandon led and supervised some of the government’s most notable national security investigations. He served as Senior Assistant Special Counsel for the Special Counsel’s Office, handling some of the office’s most significant matters. As one of Special Counsel Mueller’s top deputies, Brandon led the investigation and prosecution of former National Security Advisory Michael Flynn and was a key member of the trial team that successfully prosecuted Paul Manafort, a former presidential campaign manager. For months prior to the appointment of Special Counsel Mueller, Brandon headed the entire Russia investigation, at the direction of the Acting Attorney General.

Brandon also managed significant corporate investigations and resolutions across the national security spectrum. As Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and a Trial Attorney in the Counterintelligence & Export Control Section, he worked on the resolution of almost every significant corporate matter pertaining to export control and sanctions violations in the last decade and is one of the few attorneys to have managed the DOJ’s Voluntary Self-Disclosure Program for export control and sanctions violations. As Chief of the FARA Unit, he directed scores of investigations of companies for acting as unregistered foreign agents.

Sanctions, Export Control, & Foreign Investment

As Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, Brandon oversaw every criminal investigation involving export control and sanctions and led the DOJ’s response to the Obama Administration’s rollback of sanctions targeting Iran—the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). As a Trial Attorney, he prosecuted more than 30 export control and sanctions cases, including first‑ever cases involving North Korea, weapons of mass destruction, and the Atomic Energy Act. Brandon has also handled the review of transactions before CFIUS and Team Telecom across multiple administrations. During the Obama Administration, he managed the DOJ’s review of transactions before CFIUS, to include advising on mitigation proposals, and over the last year he led DOJ’s review of transactions involving foreign influence before CFIUS and Team Telecom.

FARA and the Lobbying Disclosure Act

As Chief of the FARA Unit, and the first official to supervise all foreign influence matters across the DOJ, Brandon revitalized and transformed the enforcement of FARA. Following the DOJ’s announcement making FARA an enforcement priority, he supervised a team of 40 attorneys and staff that opened a record number of investigations, pursued a record number of enforcement actions, secured a record number of registrations, and obtained the first civil injunction involving FARA in nearly three decades. Brandon also directed the review of Lobbying Disclosure Act (LDA) filings for criminal violations and regulated the exemption under FARA for LDA registrants.


As a long-time prosecutor, including as a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney for the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia, Brandon directed complex cyber investigations, including multiple matters involving state-sponsored cyberattacks. He prosecuted the first person convicted as a cyberterrorist and led the investigation of an international hacking group for identity theft, extortion, and dozens of spearphishing attacks against public and private entities. He also collaborated with other government agencies, such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the Department of Homeland Security, to facilitate cooperation from corporate victims and disseminate threat information.

During his time at the DOJ, Brandon handled the entire range of national security matters. He led and supervised investigations and prosecutions involving espionage, economic espionage, mishandling of classified information, and theft of trade secrets. He also directed investigations involving treason, mutiny, the Neutrality Act, and the Logan Act.

Brandon earned his J.D. from Harvard Law School and his B.A. from Duke University. He began his legal career as an associate in the Washington, D.C., office of another global law firm, where he represented clients accused of fraud and violating securities law and regulations. He later served as a law clerk for the Hon. Thomas F. Hogan, U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

Brandon has been widely recognized for his deep experience in handling national security matters, and he regularly keynotes and speaks at industry conferences involving export control and sanctions, CFIUS, FARA, and political activities. He has received numerous awards for his work, including the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service (2018), the FBI Director’s Award for Outstanding Cyber Investigation (2017), the Homeland Security Investigations Executive Associate Director’s Award for Outstanding Counterproliferation Investigation (2014), and five awards from the Assistant Attorney General for National Security. He was also recognized by DCA Live as a Rising Star of Law, 40 Under 40 (2018).

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