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By Kenneth P. Vogel
Prince Andrew’s lawyers had discussions with a Washington lobbyist with ties to the Trump administration about the possibility of assisting the prince with fallout from his relationship with disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein.
Lawyers from the London-based firm Blackfords consulted the lobbyist, Robert Stryk, who represents international figures with sensitive legal or diplomatic issues, in recent weeks about Andrew’s situation, according to a person familiar with the circumstances.
Stryk has a history of taking on clients with unsavory reputations. But he expressed discomfort about the possibility of assisting Andrew, and talks about the potential representation appear to have fizzled, according to the person familiar with the situation.
It is not clear precisely what type of assistance Blackfords might have been seeking from Stryk, who is not a lawyer, or what he could do to help Andrew. Nor is it clear whether Blackfords has reached out to other Washington lobbyists or consultants about the possibility of working on the issue.
Neither Stryk nor any other U.S. consultant is listed as having registered with the Justice Department to represent Andrew, which could be required under the Foreign Agents Registration Act if a consulting arrangement had been reached involving lobbying or public relations.
Blackfords has been representing Andrew, the Duke of York, in a contentious back-and-forth with federal prosecutors in New York who are investigating allegations of sex trafficking and other crimes by Epstein and his associates.
Andrew, 60, has not been charged in the case.
But in August, Virginia Roberts Giuffre accused the prince of having sex with her three times when she was 17 years old after she was connected to him by Epstein.
The prince denied her claim in an interview with the BBC in August and sought to minimize his long friendship with Epstein, who killed himself last summer at a federal jail in New York City while awaiting trial on sex trafficking and conspiracy charges. Andrew had met Epstein through Ghislaine Maxwell, a British socialite and Epstein’s onetime girlfriend, who was arrested Thursday and charged with luring multiple underage girls into Epstein’s orbit.
Andrew had indicated a willingness to help U.S. law enforcement officials with their investigations late last year. But since then, prosecutors in New York have publicly criticized him on multiple occasions for offering “zero cooperation” and for stonewalling.
The prince’s lawyers at Blackfords shot back in a statement last month. They accused Geoffrey S. Berman, who had served as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan until being fired late last month, of making “inaccurate” statements about Andrew, suggesting that the prosecutor and his colleagues were “perhaps seeking publicity rather than accepting the assistance proffered.”
Blackfords did not respond to requests for comment. Stryk declined to comment.
Stryk, who is well connected in Trump administration foreign policy circles, owns a company called Sonoran Policy Group, which casts itself as a “global private diplomacy” firm. He has developed a reputation in recent years for taking on clients other Washington lobbyists and consultants shy away from.
This year alone, his firm has signed contracts to represent a jailed Saudi prince who had fallen out of favor with his country’s powerful de facto leader, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, as well as the administration of President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela, which the Trump administration considers illegitimate.
Stryk represents Isabel dos Santos, the daughter of Angola’s former president who is accused of embezzling millions of dollars from a state oil company she once headed. And he had represented the government of the former Congolese president Joseph Kabila, which had faced U.S. sanctions for human rights abuses and corruption.