Government Experience

  • Office of the Director of National Intelligence—Inspector General of the Intelligence Community, 2018 – 2020
  • Department of Justice: National Security Division—Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General, National Asset Protection, 2016; Senior Counsel to the Assistant Attorney General, 2016 – 2018
  • Department of Justice: United States Attorney's Office—District of Columbia, Fraud and Public Corruption Section—Acting Chief, 2015 - 2016; Deputy Chief, 2012 – 2015; Assistant United States Attorney, 2006 – 2012
  • Department of Justice: Criminal Division—Trial Attorney, Fraud Section, 2002 – 2006


  • Syracuse University, B.A. (1986)
  • Cornell Law School, J.D. (1991)


  • District of Columbia
  • Supreme Court of the United States
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, District of Columbia
  • U.S. District Court, District of Maryland
  • District of Columbia Court of Appeals
  • Maryland Court of Appeals
  • Maryland Court of Special Appeals

Michael K. Atkinson


Michael K. Atkinson is the former chief watchdog of the U.S. intelligence agencies and served in senior U.S. Department of Justice roles spanning two decades. He has led dozens of high-profile investigations and offers clients a rare combination of experience in criminal defense and corporate compliance. Michael's practice focuses on white collar defense, national security, internal and congressional investigations, and parallel civil and regulatory enforcement proceedings. His work also includes high-stakes compliance advice on strategic issues such as cross-border investigations and the use of artificial intelligence/machine learning (AI/ML) programs. He is a partner in the firm's Washington, D.C. office, working with the White Collar & Regulatory Enforcement and Investigations groups. Michael is also a co-leader of the firm’s National Security Practice and Whistleblower Working Group.

Michael was most recently the Presidentially appointed and Senate confirmed inspector general of the Intelligence Community in the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. In that role, he oversaw audit, inspection, and investigation divisions that conducted criminal and civil investigations as well as compliance reviews of programs and activities within the Intelligence Community, including the investigation of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint that resulted ultimately in the first impeachment trial of former President Donald J. Trump. As the Intelligence Community’s top watchdog, Michael had oversight responsibility for the IC's initial efforts to adopt and implement ethical principles and increased transparency for programs and operations involving AI/ML. He was also a member of the U.S. delegations to the annual reviews on the functioning of transatlantic data transfers under the U.S./European Union Privacy Shield framework. He also served as the chair of the Intelligence Community Inspectors General Forum.

Prior to his inspector general role, Michael prosecuted and oversaw at the DOJ some of the most significant criminal fraud, public corruption, and national security cases in the United States. He was most recently the acting deputy assistant attorney general for National Asset Protection and senior counsel to the assistant attorney general for the National Security Division (NSD), where he oversaw the Counterintelligence and Export Control Section and the Foreign Investment Review staff. Michael handled sensitive investigative matters involving national security, cybersecurity, export controls and sanctions, economic espionage, and the mishandling of classified information. He also oversaw the Justice Department’s participation in the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) through its review of foreign acquisitions of domestic companies and efforts to prohibit or modify such transactions on national security grounds. Prior to his work at NSD, Michael served as the acting chief and the deputy chief in the Fraud and Public Corruption Section of the U.S. Attorney's Office in the District of Columbia and, earlier, as a trial attorney with the Justice Department, Criminal Division, Fraud Section.

Before his 18 years of government service, Michael was a litigation partner at a global law firm, where he focused on solving complex civil and white collar criminal legal problems for a wide range of clients, including Fortune 500 companies, corporate executives, and high-profile public officials.


  • Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service
  • United States Attorney’s Award for Exceptional Performance by an AUSA
  • Assistant Attorney General’s Award for National Security
  • Executive Office for United States Attorneys: Director’s Award for Superior Performance by an AUSA
  • Joe A. Callaway Award for Civic Courage, which recognizes individuals in any area of endeavor who, with integrity and at some personal risk, take a public stance to advance truth and justice, and who challenge prevailing conditions in pursuit of the common good

Representative Matters

Representative Firm Experience

  • Represented global professional services company concerning compliance and regulatory strategy for developing, testing, and implementing AI/ML tools in support of police and law enforcement entities.
  • Represented U.S. government contractors before the U.S. Department of Justice, Department of Defense’s Office of Inspector General, and Army Criminal Investigation Division.
  • Represented an academic institution in a Congressional investigation concerning the Coronavirus crisis and related issues.
  • Represented multinational corporations concerning privacy, civil liberties, and national security issues in cross-border data transfers of sensitive information.
  • Counseled a biotechnology company on transactions implicating the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), the UK Bribery Act, and other anti-corruption laws.
  • Represented former head of special projects at the Ethereum Foundation in connection with a conspiracy to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) for providing advice to North Korea on blockchain.

Representative Government Experience

  • Led the investigation of the Ukraine whistleblower complaint that resulted in the first impeachment trial of President Donald J. Trump.
  • Obtained the jury trial convictions of the former chief executive officer and the former vice president of sales for Caribbean operations for violating the FCPA and obstruction of justice.
  • Lead prosecutor in the largest domestic bribery and bid steering scheme in the history of federal contracting, which required oversight of law enforcement agents from multiple federal agencies as part of an investigation that spanned the United States, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea.
  • Obtained the convictions of a former member of Congress and his spouse in connection with defrauding the Congressman’s campaign committee and tax evasion.
  • Supervised the prosecution of the largest publicly traded telecommunications manufacturer in China, and the fourth largest telecommunications manufacturer in the world, for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economics Powers Act (IEEPA), which resulted in a guilty plea for illegally shipping U.S.-origin items to Iran, obstructing justice, and making a material false statement, and the largest criminal fine ever obtained by the Department of Justice in an IEEPA case.
  • Secured a non-prosecution agreement with a global software company to strengthen security protocols to increase information security by regulating remote access to U.S. company networks and transfers of sensitive data.
  • Supervised the prosecution of two multinational financial institutions, which agreed to pay, collectively, over $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and regulatory charges that the institutions violated economic sanctions targeting Iran and Sudan.
  • Obtained agreements with subsidiaries of a financial services corporation and an insurance conglomerate arising from a securities fraud investigation related to the improper use of special purpose entities, which resulted in the payment of over $245 million in monetary penalties and restitution.
  • Obtained the convictions of the chief executive officer and two board members of a publicly traded company based in China for a tax conspiracy, which prosecution also included obtaining the convictions of three attorneys for obstruction of justice and false statements arising from a securities fraud investigation.
  • Obtained the convictions of the former owner of the District of Columbia’s largest government contracting firm, as well as three candidates for and one member of the District of Columbia Council, for federal and District of Columbia campaign finance violations.
  • Prosecuted a then-sitting U.S. Congressman for conspiracy, bribery, honest services fraud, FCPA, RICO, money laundering, and obstruction of justice, which also led to the conviction of a chief executive officer for bribery of the Congressman and the conviction of a former Congressional staff member for aiding and abetting bribery and conspiring to bribe the Congressman.
  • Supervised the investigation and prosecution of the largest health care takedown in the history of the District of Columbia concerning 20 business owners, executives, and employees for their roles in over $80 million in Medicaid fraud among home health care agencies and nurse staffing agencies.

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Firm News & Announcements

August 18, 2022 The Best Lawyers in America 2023 Recognizes 54 Crowell & Moring Attorneys, Three Selected as Lawyer of the Year
November 11, 2021 Crowell & Moring Named to "GIR 100" for Seventh Consecutive Year
February 17, 2021 Former Intelligence Community Inspector General Michael K. Atkinson Joins Crowell & Moring