White House Counsel

Gregory Craig Gregory B Craig Greg Craig Williams Connolly Above the Law Blog.jpgThe rumors circulated back in August, but now it looks like it’s finally happening. From Marc Ambinder, shortly before 11 on Thursday night:

Sources in government say that White House Counsel Gregory Craig has decided to resign, and that the president’s personal lawyer, Robert Bauer, will take his place. A formal announcement is slated next week, though word might drop tomorrow.

Looks like that announcement is getting sped up. More after the jump.
UPDATE: Greg Craig’s resignation letter, also after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Greg Craig Out as White House Counsel, Bob Bauer In”

Gregory Craig and Obama above the law.jpgLast night, the Wall Street Journal (subscription) sent out a news alert claiming that President Obama’s White House counsel, Gregory Craig, is getting kicked to the curb:

Obama administration officials are holding discussions that could result in White House counsel Gregory Craig leaving his post, following a rocky tenure, people familiar with the matter said.

The WSJ implies that Craig — a former Williams & Connolly partner, perhaps best known for extracting President Clinton from the impeachment mess — has botched advising the President on several national-security issues, including the Guantanamo prison closure, the release of national-security documents from the Bush era, and detainee holdings.
But the White House says ‘whoa, whoa, settle down now.’

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Is White House Counsel Gregory Craig Getting Played in a Washington Parlor Game?”

sonia sotomayor above the law.jpgThis morning we covered the announcement by President Barack Obama of his intention to nominate Judge Sonia Sotomayor, of the New York-based Second Circuit, to serve as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. This afternoon, we participated in a conference call between a senior Administration official and several reporters, to discuss the Sotomayor nomination. Here’s a quick write-up of the call.
“Obviously it’s an historic day here at the White House,” the official noted, referencing the fact that Judge Sotomayor, if confirmed, will be the first Hispanic (and only the third woman) to serve on the SCOTUS. He stressed that the president took the choice “very seriously,” and read “literally thousands of pages” of judicial opinions and academic writings by the potential nominees. (Of course, as a former law professor, Obama is used to such intellectual heavy lifting.)
Obama interviewed four candidates personally (and Vice President Joe Biden also talked to the final four): Judge Sotomayor; Judge Diane Wood, of the Seventh Circuit; Solicitor General Elena Kagan; and Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano. He picked Judge Sotomayor based on three factors: (1) her overall level of intellectual capacity and legal acumen, reflected in her academic record, her work as a lawyer, and her judicial service; (2) her approach to judging, including her legal craftsmanship and her ability to win over colleagues on the Second Circuit; and (3) her compelling personal story, which was placed front and center at this morning’s press conference.
Then the floor was opened up to questions. Read more, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “The Sotomayor Nomination: A Bit of Backstory”

champagne glasses small.jpgThere was no LEWW last Friday because last week’s wedding pages were even bleaker than the Biglaw employment news. We’ve bounced back nicely, though, because Valentine’s Day fell on a Saturday this year, making this week’s weddings section a February feast of premium nuptial news.

We present three outstanding couples for your consideration:

1. Parisa Sabeti and Ted Zagat

2. Jessica Holzer and Hans Nichols

3. Kendall Burman and Eric Volkman

Check out these newlyweds’ résumés and pictures, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Legal Eagle Wedding Watch 2.15: First-Rate”

Cass Sunstein Samantha Power engaged ATL Above the Law blog.jpgBack in July, when we covered the nuptials of celebrity professors / Obama advisers Cass Sunstein and Samantha Power, we wrote: “We look forward to seeing the heights to which they will ascend, together, in the administration of President Obama.”

Well, now we know. Both have snagged important positions in the White House. As previously reported, Sunstein, a former colleague of Obama’s from the University of Chicago Law School faculty, was tapped to serve as “regulatory czar” — a big deal in an administration that will be cranking out lots of regulations.

And last night we learned that Samantha Power will be joining hubby Cass at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. From the Associated Press:

Samantha Power, the Harvard University professor and Pulitzer Prize-winning author who earned notoriety for calling Hillary Rodham Clinton a ”monster” while working to elect Barack Obama president, will take a senior foreign policy job at the White House….

Officials familiar with the decision say Obama has tapped Power to be senior director for multilateral affairs at the National Security Council, a job that will require close contact and potential travel with Clinton, who is now secretary of state. NSC staffers often accompany the secretary of state on foreign trips.

See, Obama does have a sense of humor! Or, more likely, Obama always planned to give Power a plum position, despite “Monstergate.” Sure, it wasn’t her finest hour; but as a Harvard Law School grad, Power is entitled to a few undiplomatic moments. Speculates Gawker: “If someone really wants to hire you, he’ll make your future boss promise to be nice to you, in exchange for her job.”

Update: More good news for Samantha Power and Cass Sunstein. A tipster tells us: “They’re creating a super-child of the 21st century. She’s pregnant!”

A little more about the Power couple, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: Now Power and Sunstein Can Carpool To Work”

White House small Washington DC Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGYes We Can…. Hire lots and lots of Supreme Court clerks?

In prior posts (here and here), we reported on the impressive legal team that President Barack Obama has assembled to staff key positions in his administration. Like many of the Bush Administration lawyers they’re replacing, the Obama lawyers have impressive pedigrees: degrees from top law schools, often with honors and/or law review experience; impressive clerkships, including many SCOTUS clerkships; and stints at leading law firms (but with WilmerHale and Williams & Connolly replacing Gibson Dunn and Kirkland & Ellis as the feeder firms).

Several legal superstars are making big financial sacrifices to go into government service. They can expect low six-figure salaries as government lawyers, a far cry from the seven figures that some of them — not the law professors, but the Biglaw partners — earned in the private sector. As reported by Ken Vogel over at Politico:

Eric Holder, President Obama’s nominee for attorney general, will get a separation payment from his firm, Covington & Burling, of between $1 million and $5 million, plus a share of the firm’s profits from this year “based on work performed through date of separation,” and a repayment of between $500,000 and $1 million from the firm’s capital account…. [Holder] earned $3.3 million last year as partner.

Jeh Johnson, Obama’s nominee to be the Pentagon’s top lawyer, would get a severance of between $1 million and $5 million from Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, an international law firm. He’ll also get his $200,000 capital investment back from the firm, which paid him $2.6 million last year as a partner.

For more details — e.g., how much Eric Holder and Jeh Johnson’s retirement plans and pensions might be worth — see Politico.

In our earlier hiring round-ups, we missed a few names. Many tipsters came forward to fill in the blanks.

Learn about the latest legal eagles to land in the Obama nest, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: More Additions to the White House Legal Dream Team”

White House small Washington DC Abovethelaw Above the Law legal tabloid.JPGLast night we wrote about some of the top-notch talent that will be filling senior legal positions in the Obama Administration. These are big names, and you probably also read about them in big publications, like the Legal Times or the Wall Street Journal.

ATL is willing to drill down deeper. We now bring you personnel news at more junior levels. If you graduated law school in the past 15 or even 10 years, you might actually know some of these people.

Our prior post focused on two of the most prestigious parts of the Department of Justice: the Solicitor General’s office, and the Office of Legal Counsel. We now turn our attention to two other top offices: the White House Counsel’s office, and the office of the Deputy Attorney General.

Over 300,000 people applied for 3,300 positions in the Obama administration. After going through a ridiculous screening process, these fine folks landed 20 of the most coveted legal jobs in the country.

See if you know any of them, after the jump.

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “Musical Chairs: The Obama White House Counsel’s Office
(And ODAG picks, too.)”

Mr_Easter_Bunny.jpgSome of you have wondered about the delay in choosing finalists for the ATL Caption Contest. We did not forget about it; we just wanted to save a little Easter for April, the proper month for the holiday. Easter in March is just plain wrong.
As a refresher, this is the photo of President Bush and his White House Counsel — Fred Fielding, former senior partner at Wiley Rein (fka Wiley Rein & Fielding), dressed up as the Easter Bunny — at the White House Easter Egg Roll last month. Without further ado, out of 200 comments, these are our ten finalists. [FN1]
A. “I left a firm with over $4 million in PPP to do THIS???” -Anonymous
B. The Mad Hatter and the March Hare discuss the legality of waterboarding the Dormouse. -Klerk
C. “Mr. President, I wanted to let you know that I put the last of those White House e-mails down the rabbit hole.” -Anonymous
D. Yeah, well, nobody wants to be the guy that told the POTUS there is no Easter Bunny and Cheney said that if I play along I’ll get a Supreme Court nomination. Hey, whatever happened with that Harriet woman? -Anonymous
E. I dressed up in this bunny suit and all I got was a feature on ATL. -Anonymous
F. After ignoring the rule of law for seven years, President Bush finally found a use for the White House Counsel. -Anonymous
G. “Someone please tell me that’s not a wombat behind me.” -Anonymous
H. I guess that answers the question of whether its better to get a JD or an MBA. -Anonymous
I. Fred (thinking): “That f-n headhunter promised me I would be supporting the President on matters of national importance. G-d D-MN it!” -Anonymous
J. George: Why do you wear that stupid bunny suit?
Bunny: Why do you wear that stupid man suit? -133t
We invite you to vote for the winner after the jump. Poll closes at midnight tomorrow.
[FN1] There were many funny comments, but we exercised a bias in favor of those with a legal connection.
Earlier: ATL Caption Contest: Mr. Easter Bunny, White House Counsel Fred Fielding
The rabbit behind the man: White House counsel Fred Fielding [Washington Post]

double red triangle arrows Continue reading “ATL Caption Contest Finalists: Mr. Easter Bunny and POTUS”

Here’s a photo of President Bush and his White House Counsel — Fred Fielding, former senior partner at Wiley Rein (fka Wiley Rein & Fielding), dressed up as the Easter Bunny — at the White House Easter Egg Roll earlier this week:
Fred Fielding Easter Bunny White House Counsel Fred F Fielding Above the Law blog.jpg
Quips our tipster: “One can only hope Fielding isn’t splitting hares. Or giving hare-brained advice.”
Okay, you’re groaning. Think you can do better? Then enter the ATL caption contest. Same rules as before:

We welcome your suggested alternative captions, in the comments. Assuming sufficient response, we’ll take our favorites, incorporate them into a poll, and hold a caption contest.

We doubt we’ll receive as many submissions as we did for our last caption contest. But we’re going to limit the entries this time: we’re closing the comments if and when we hit the 100-comment mark. So if you’d like to enter the contest, don’t delay. Thanks.
Update (2 PM): Okay, we’ll let it get up to 200 comments. We especially appreciate suggested captions that are in some way law-related. What makes this picture relevant to ATL is the fact that the man in the bunny suit is President Bush’s chief lawyer (and a former name partner of a leading D.C. law firm).
If we just wanted to post a random, funny photo of the president with the Easter bunny, we would have used this one.
Update (4:50 PM): You seem to be having a lot of fun with this, so we will keep the comments open indefinitely. But in picking the finalists, we will focus on comments that have a connection to the legal profession (as opposed to comments that are more politically oriented or simply random).
Update (3/31/08): Thanks for all the excellent entries. The comments section is now closed.
The rabbit behind the man: White House counsel Fred Fielding [Washington Post]
Bush Hugging Bunny [Wonkette]

Michael Mukasey Chief Judge Michael B Mukasey SDNY Above the Law blog.jpgWe’ve done relatively little about the nomination of former judge Michael Mukasey to serve as attorney general. While the WSJ Law Blog was dredging up his third-grade book reports — okay, not quite, but some college newspaper articles that he may or may not have written — we didn’t have much. But now we’d like to atone for that, with a piece we just did for the New York Observer.
We speculate that Michael Mukasey might be in D.C. longer than he might expect, especially if his good friend Rudy Giuliani wins the presidency (and possibly even if fellow New Yorker Hillary Clinton does). We discuss how he might have come to be picked as AG, despite not being a D.C. denizen like Ted Olson, Laurence Silberman, or George Terwilliger:

Mr. Mukasey was simply more of a known quantity to the White House than the typical Beltway outsider. The White House staff includes three former assistant U.S. attorneys from Manhattan, as well as other ex-New York lawyers who regularly practiced before Mukasey as a judge. Among the New Yorkers at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Mr. Mukasey enjoyed great respect, and was viewed as ideologically acceptable too, especially on war on terror issues.

The rest of the piece, including a discussion of what might be called the Curse of the Southern District (from President Bush’s point of view), is available here.
Mr. Mukasey Goes to Washington [New York Observer]
An Old Friend Joins Giuliani in a Spotlight [New York Times]

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