Grayscale hires Obama's former Supreme Court lawyer for legal push against SEC

Grayscale, a leading crypto asset manager, has retained a heavy hitter from the Obama-era Department of Justice.

The new legal counsel, Donald B. Verrilli Jr., was the solicitor general under President Obama. The role is a Department of Justice appointment that represents the US government in cases before the Supreme Court.

Verrilli is currently a partner at Munger, Tolles & Olson. 


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Jennifer Rosenthal, Grayscale's VP of communications announced the hire in a June 7 Twitter thread, noting the firm's "unwavering commitment to converting $GBTC to an #ETF." 

GBTC is Grayscale's Bitcoin Trust, an investment vehicle that tracks the performance of Bitcoin, albeit at a premium. The firm has spent an extended amount of time wrestling with the US Securities and Exchange Commission to get the regulator to approve the conversion of the trust to an exchange-traded fund (ETF). 

The SEC has denied a steady stream of applications to issue spot Bitcoin ETFs on the grounds that the underlying spot markets fall under no market regulator's oversight. The commission did, however, begin allowing Bitcoin futures ETFs to trade back in October. 

Verrilli's track record in litigation is extensive, but his available biographies do not highlight securities law. He does, however, have extensive experience in Administrative Procedures Act cases, which Grayscale has in the past cited as a legal argument against the SEC's handling of its ETF application. 

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Kollen Post is a senior reporter at The Block, covering all things policy and geopolitics from Washington, DC. That includes legislation and regulation, securities law and money laundering, cyber warfare, corruption, CBDCs, and blockchain’s role in the developing world. He speaks Russian and Arabic. You can send him leads at [email protected].