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Greg Craig Selected as White House Counsel:
The Washington Post reports, via How Appealing:
President-elect Barack Obama has chosen Washington lawyer Gregory B. Craig, who served as President Bill Clinton's lead attorney during the 1998 impeachment proceedings, to be his White House counsel, according to an individual involved with the transition.

Craig has been a longtime adviser to former president Clinton and Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton, but became a close adviser to Obama during the campaign, reportedly serving as the stand-in for Sen. John McCain during debate preparations.
Craig is a partner at Williams & Connolly, and you can access his law firm bio here.
taney71:
Well, he has nowhere to go but up with Gonzales and Miers as people who set the floor for him in the past eight years.
11.16.2008 6:14pm
OrinKerr:
Taney71,

Notably, though, the current WHC is Fred Fielding.
11.16.2008 6:16pm
Matthew K:
His bio seems to put him on the unpopular side of several rather noteworthy cases (i.e. Elian Gonzalez, John Hinckley, the intelligence cases from the 70s). Strikes me as a reassuring sign.
11.16.2008 6:57pm
Harry L. (mail):
Craig, as counsel to President Clinton, could have advised his client of an easy way to avoid the divulging of any embarrassing details of his private life in connection with the Paula Jones action. After the Supreme Court decided in Clinton v. Jones that the President has no immunity against civil actions, Clinton could have announced to the American people that he considered the decision outrageously wrong (I think it was), and that rather than taking his valuable time to defend against Jones's lawsuit, he would simply permit it to proceed by default. The judge would have awarded Jones damages (probably, not anywhere near the amount for which Clinton eventually settled), and discovery proceedings would never have happened. Any lawyer who neglected to give the President this advice was incompetent. Of course, Craig might have offered this advice and Clinton (being Clinton) might have chosen not to take it.
11.16.2008 7:40pm
Smokey:
1. Obama sworn in.

2. Obama demands the resignation of all U.S. Attorneys in ...3, ...2, ...1 ...
11.16.2008 7:40pm
hawkins:

1. Obama sworn in.

2. Obama demands the resignation of all U.S. Attorneys in ...3, ...2, ...1 ...



Are you implying there is something wrong with that?
11.16.2008 8:00pm
David Warner:
"His bio seems to put him on the unpopular side of several rather noteworthy cases (i.e. Elian Gonzalez, John Hinckley, the intelligence cases from the 70s). Strikes me as a reassuring sign."

Don't forget Annan in Oil for Food.
11.16.2008 8:02pm
Anderson (mail):
Of course, Craig might have offered this advice and Clinton (being Clinton) might have chosen not to take it.

Boo-yeah. Clinton could scarcely believe there wasn't anything he couldn't charm his way out of.
11.16.2008 8:12pm
Ignatius Riley (mail):

1. Obama sworn in.

2. Obama demands the resignation of all U.S. Attorneys in ...3, ...2, ...1 ...

Are you implying there is something wrong with that?



There is nothing wrong with that. "You're all fired, but you may reapply. The line forms at the right." Let's just hope he follows Truman's example: Every appointee must give the President an undated letter of resignation.
11.16.2008 8:14pm
fishbane (mail):
[insert vague innuendo about Clinton here.]
11.16.2008 8:15pm
resh (mail):
On the whole, the position of WHC seems melodramatic, as if it's aping the consiglieri-better suited for crime bosses, mafioso, and those awaiting the witness protection program.

Well, ok. In some cases maybe that's apropos...

BTW, who'd Jefferson have as his WHC? Imagine how the DOI would have read with another lawyer editing the damn thing.
11.16.2008 8:15pm
R Nebblesworth:
Let us hope this is the beginning of a grand tradition in which all WHC's have two first names.
11.16.2008 8:25pm
Steve Lubet (mail):
Craig, as counsel to President Clinton, could have advised his client of an easy way to avoid the divulging of any embarrassing details of his private life in connection with the Paula Jones action.

Craig was Clinton's lawyer in the impeachment hearings; Robert Bennett represented Clinton throughout the Paula Jones case.
11.16.2008 8:43pm
Sammy Finkelman (mail):
Bill Clinton believed he could get away with lying so he was not that anxious to avoid questioning. What he didn't know was that Paula Jones's lawyers already knew about Monica Lewisnky. So it was a sort of perjury trap for him.

He would not have been caught - except for the fact that he made the big mistake of exiling BOTH Linda Tripp and Monica Lewinsky - two people whose silence he wanted and whom he believed government employment would help maintain that silence - to the VERY SAME OFFICE!

(Linda Tripp knew something about the Vincent Foster case.

See testimonmy here:

http://snurl.com/5nw46

She never said exactly what it is that she knew. Maybe something about the timeline. Or some other lie they had told.

(One thing they had to do was to get files out of Vincent Foster's office without is nominal boss, Bernard Nussbaum, seeing them, as he might very logically have wanted to do. Then they staged some incident two days after they removed the files which they could later leak designed to make it appear that it was Bernard Nussbaum who was keeping secrets, and by implication, knew them of course. Maybe it was only that. Later on by the way, the Clintons mixed up Whitewater papers with some items removed from the office and sort of pretended it had come from the office.)

Bill Clinton never considered letting the suit lapse. More important, Bill Cliton had actually maneuvered Paula Jones into filing the lawsuit. he had wanted that lawsuit. He could have had this suit dismissed too rather easily at the beginning on technical grounds.

But the lawsuit gave public cover for setting up a legal defense fund. If he hadn't had this lawsuit it would have looked much more significant. His real legal problems were something else - and they were handled by the law firm of Williams &Connolly.

So now I don't know what this means. Does it mean Clinton now has an important spy in the Obama Administration - or is Craig's true loyalty ow going to be to Obama? And did Obama pick him because of his relationship to Clinton or not?

After he was caught commiting perjury the better idea was to settle the lawsuit so that it could not be argued he had benefitted from his perjury. That is undoubtably the legal advice he was given.
11.16.2008 8:48pm
Sammy Finkelman (mail):
>> BTW, who'd Jefferson have as his WHC? Imagine how the DOI would have read with another lawyer editing the damn thing.

Thomas Jefferson? In those days there was only an Attorney General.

BTW it is very interesting how he covered up the Sally Hemings affair. He leaked a false version of the truth that could be proven false. It involved a son named Tom who probably never existed and described Sally Hemings as "dusky Sally"

But she was nearly white - three quarters white - and his late wife's half sister.

Jefferson of course had written in Notes on Virginia in 1784 - well before the affair was supposed to have begun in 1789 - that he did not find dark skinned people physically attractive, so describing Sally as dusky would immediately cause people in the Republican party familiar with Jefferson's writings to conclude that the story had to be false.

Note: Modern convention, established by members of Congress in the Twentieth Century. is to describe Jefferson's party party as Democratic-Republican, however it was known as Republican then and when the Republican Party was founded in 1854 it deleiberatly took that old name. The name Democratic wasn't really used till the time of Andrew Jackson.
11.16.2008 9:03pm
Mahan Atma (mail):
"Clinton could have announced to the American people that he considered the decision outrageously wrong (I think it was), and that rather than taking his valuable time to defend against Jones's lawsuit, he would simply permit it to proceed by default."


Have you ever represented someone with a huge ego and a public reputation to uphold?

These clients always insist on testifying, and can't be talked out of it.
11.16.2008 9:23pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
When there's a change of administrations, of course they ask for resignations of appointees. I seem to recall from my DC days a report (I was career, not appointee) that (1) even in the change from Reagan to Bush I, appointees were required to give undated letters of resignation, with the date to be added at convenience (a little easier in days of typewriters than in these days of word processors) and (2) that Jim Watt, upon being made Sec. of Interior, was seen as sorta breaching the understanding when Reagan came in, because he required an immediate resignation of all appointees, rather than letting them serve and draw pay until he had a replacement in mind.

The US Attorneys thing is only an issue because (1) it involved replacement in the midst of an Administration (unusual but perfectly legal); (2) the Demos saw and maybe see it as a useful claim.
11.16.2008 9:50pm
Coldwarkid (mail):
So, the lead attorney during the impeachment proceedings...wow. What is he preparing for? Debate on the validity of his birth certificate, perhaps? The liberal illuminati keep managing to avoid that issue in the media.

Obama seems fond of signing on old hand Clinton vets, established Washington power brokers. That's curious to me: there's no love lost between the Obamas and the Clintons. And while these folks were last in power during the Clinton years, surely there are other qualified people?
11.16.2008 10:15pm
R Nebblesworth:
booga booga, obama is a foreigner! keep pressing that claim, coldwarkid, it was so effective against "the liberal illuminati" in the election.
11.16.2008 10:29pm
Norman Bates (mail):
Change you can believe in....Suckers!
11.16.2008 10:30pm
CrimLawStudent (mail):
Coldwarkid et al.,
I'm pretty sure Gregory Craig was an early supporter of Obama.
11.16.2008 10:33pm
Ignatius Riley (mail):
Paging David Icke, Paging David Icke: Your party is waiting for you at baggage claim 23.
11.16.2008 10:36pm
Dave Hardy (mail) (www):
"Obama seems fond of signing on old hand Clinton vets, established Washington power brokers. That's curious to me: there's no love lost between the Obamas and the Clintons. And while these folks were last in power during the Clinton years, surely there are other qualified people?"

1. As a DC newbie, Obama may have limited ability to find non-Clinton people with connections and knowledge (and yes, those requirements do make "change you can believe in" an impossible theme).

2. Just in case Hillary is thinking about a try in 2012 should Obama stumble between now and then (think Ted Kennedy's run against Jimmy Carter), hiring on her people can decimate her potential supporters. Or, given that gratitude and loyalty are not DC virtues, at least make it clumsy for them to back her.
11.16.2008 10:41pm
James Gibson (mail):
I just like the fact the candidate people wanted because they were tired of the Clinton's seems to be filling his administration with Clintonistas. The man who stopped Hillary from having what she was entitled to is putting so many of her and Bills friends and associates into the White house. He is even considering her for Secretary of State.

Obama needs to stop stripping out safe Democratic Senators and Congress members for his cabinet. The subs that get assigned to fill out the time in office may not have the charisma or the political machine to hold the office through the next election. And if they can, the subs may challenge the previous holder in the primary. And everyone knows cabinet offices get reshuffled every two years if the President needs help in say rebuilding his opinion polls. Thus, some of these people may end up waiting a couple of years to retake their safe seat in the House or Senate if they get booted in a white house shakeup in 2010.
11.16.2008 10:49pm
BGates:
As a DC newbie
Dave, if you're suggesting that Obama's prior experience has any bearing on his ability to serve as President, RACIST!
11.16.2008 11:28pm
Matthew K:
Wow, we're hitting fever swamp territory fast. I'm impressed!
11.16.2008 11:34pm
Hadur:
James Gibson:

Exactly how many Democratic Senators has Obama stripped for the cabinet yet? None. Rahm Emmanuel is from one of the safest Democratic districts in the country.
11.17.2008 12:26am
DG:
{2. Just in case Hillary is thinking about a try in 2012 should Obama stumble between now and then (think Ted Kennedy's run against Jimmy Carter), hiring on her people can decimate her potential supporters. Or, given that gratitude and loyalty are not DC virtues, at least make it clumsy for them to back her.}

Has this ever been successfully pulled off? Winning a primary against a sitting president?
11.17.2008 1:16am
CrimLawStudent (mail):
Franklin Pierce lost renomination to James Buchanan in 1856.

I'm pretty sure that was the only time.
11.17.2008 3:10am
Brett Bellmore:
The issue from Clinton's demanding the resignation of all the US attorneys with undue haste was that,

1. He was, himself, under investigation by some of them.

2. He demanded the resignation of all of them, and accepted that resignation from the ones investigating him,

3. And then proceeded to replace the rest on a normal schedule.

IOW, the charge is that the immediate demand for the resignation of all of them was a smokescreen for killing the criminal investigations of himself which were going on when he took office.

The thing to watch for in the Obama administration, then, is what happens to the attorneys going after his pals in Chicago, who might have some dirt on him. I understand he's given some kind of promise it won't be disrupted. We'll see...

I think the chief significance of this is merely that the Obama administration is going to be the same old same old, he didn't have any fresh faces in mind, just the old party hacks. We've yet to see the "Whoa, didn't see that coming!" nomination.
11.17.2008 6:15am
MJG:
Dunno much about Craig, but I enjoyed the biographical fact that he once defended Alexander Solzenitzyn in a libel case in the late '70s. (I don't know if this was one of those law firm things or if he personally defended Solzenitsyn; interesting nonetheless.)
11.17.2008 9:36am
BT:
BO was a go-along-get-along pol when in the Illinois Senate and very much an insider of the D machine here. How he remade himself into the agent of change that so many are hoping he is, is one of the most remarkable sales jobs I have ever seen. It is not surprising that he is picking guys like Emmanuel and Craig, guys BO can count on who are on the same page idiologically and fierce partisan D's, etc. BO's mentor in the Illinois Senate was Emil Jones, a long time pol and as inside a guy you can find and far from an agent of change. I thnk alot of BO's appeal is that he is not George Bush.
11.17.2008 10:19am
Terrivus:
If Craig were being appointed to a Republican administration, this is how the liberal left would react to his experience:

"In 1999, Mr. Craig represented a major corporation in a trial in which a senior executive brought suit against the company alleging age discrimination."

He's anti-woman!

In 1983 to 1984, working with Edward Bennett Williams, Mr. Craig represented a prominent businessman who was charged with tax evasion in federal court in Miami.

He favors fat-cat tax evaders!

From 1973 to 1975, working with Edward Bennett Williams, Mr. Craig represented the clubs of the National Hockey League in antitrust litigation involving the World Hockey Association.

He's against antitrust enforcement and hates consumers!

Mr. Craig represented two Chicago policemen in extradition proceedings in federal court in Chicago and brought a declaratory judgment action on their behalf in federal court in Washington, D.C.

He wants to hold policemen unaccountable for their actions!

But, of course, we won't be hearing any of that this time around.

(Craig is actually a good guy and a hell of a lawyer, and obviously the above cases aren't grounds for any suspicion. I just enjoy the absence of outrage that would accompany a conservative with a similar record.)
11.17.2008 10:29am
Sarcastro (www):
I would like to make the following points about this oppointment by Obama.

1. Clinton suuucked.
2. Obama suuucks!
3. Obama is like Clinton's twin brother, only he sucks more.
4. The MSM suuucks.

That is all.
11.17.2008 10:42am
Bob from Ohio (mail):
Craig represent one president during an impeachment and the attempted murderer of another president.

I would say this is very bad karma for Obama.

(BTW, Terrivus, you left out that he represented as recently as January 2008 a Panamanian accused of murdering a US soldier. Funny, that is not on his firm bio.)
11.17.2008 10:49am
David Warner:
BT,

"How he remade himself into the agent of change that so many are hoping he is, is one of the most remarkable sales jobs I have ever seen."

He is the grandson of Willy Loman.

"It is not surprising that he is picking guys like Emmanuel and Craig, guys BO can count on who are on the same page idiologically and fierce partisan D's, etc. BO's mentor in the Illinois Senate was Emil Jones, a long time pol and as inside a guy you can find and far from an agent of change. I thnk alot of BO's appeal is that he is not George Bush."

Not George Bush? This sounds exactly like how George Bush proceeded. I'm thinking that there are more interesting things about Rahmulus than his fierce partisanship, but by your account, you're describing the first days of the Bush administration to a "w".
11.17.2008 10:53am
MarkField (mail):
This is not a thread about the US Attorney issue, but I just wanted to say that Brett's post is factually inaccurate about the Clinton firings. See here for the details.

Now back to your regularly scheduled thread.
11.17.2008 10:53am
Emily Latilla (mail):
Craig was an excellent choice for Obama. As a wonderful actor, fresh off Quantum of Solace, his ability to charm and woo opposing council will be high, and if he can handle tough situations anything like his 007 character he'll be able to...what...GREG Craig?...just another political insider power-broker attorney?...never mind.
11.17.2008 12:11pm
AntonK (mail):

I doubt that any President has selected the defender of a presidential assassin as White House Counsel before now. Does anyone want to guess how long that takes to become a Trivial Pursuit question?

Given Craig's dubious client list, especially Gonzalez Pinzon as an apparent active client, this selection is a disgrace. The last person we need in the White House is an attorney who represented assassins, Castro and his goons, corrupt UN executives, and a suspected killer of an American soldier. Those are the people the White House should focus on stopping, not embracing
.


Quoted from Ed Morrissey
11.17.2008 12:22pm
Brett Bellmore:
Mark, I would just like to say that my post is factually accurate as to the allegations concerning the firings. It is important, I think, to be right about what somebody is accused of, before you set out to debunk the charges.

Followed your link, didn't find a trace of debunking of the allegations I related, which had nothing to do with Bush's subsequent conduct. Just a debunking of the idea that Bush and Clinton did the same thing.

Ok, they didn't do the same thing. I didn't say they did. Maybe there was something vaguely relevant to what *I* said, in the comments? My lunch wasn't long enough to read them.
11.17.2008 12:50pm
Sammy Finkelman (mail):
I think maybe the test for where Gregory Ceraiig;s loyalty lies might be in the questions of whether or not Barack Obama can keep his blackberry and whether or not a full scale vetting of Bill Clinton is needed.

It would be very inconsistent to keep Obama away from his blackberry and at the same time say it is OK to vet the Clinton;s only partially.

(With the blackberry, you'd think also his duty would be to try to help the president do what he wants to do if itn principle it is legal and Congress certainly never meant to prohibuit the President from having a blackberry nor is it even useful. Keeping him away from ablackbwerry would merely isolate the president and make it easier to manipulate him. And technical record keeping questions can be worked out. And people could be warned that at some point in time archivists would go through it and try to eliminate what is not business and taht anyway it probably would be made opublic eventually anyway in 75 or 100 years.
As for security questions, other people in sensitive positions in the US government own blackberries.

With Clinton, no vetting beyond a certain amount is legally required but if he counsels Obama to avoid what he otherwise would do and yet doesn't help him keep a blackberry the whole thing looks very very bad)
11.17.2008 12:55pm
Brett Bellmore:
In fact, I'm not sure how the allegations I related COULD have anything to do with Bush's subsequent conduct, since they were leveled before Bush was elected. It must be remembered that people made a stink about things Clinton did while he was still in office...
11.17.2008 12:56pm
steve lubet (mail):

Franklin Pierce lost renomination to James Buchanan in 1856. I'm pretty sure that was the only time.


In 1852, Millard Fillmore was dumped by the Whigs in favor of Winfield Scott. In 1860, the Democrats fell apart, but they were relatively united in their rejection of James Buchanan.
11.17.2008 1:13pm
Anon #319:
Apparently the complete definition of change is "change back to the way things were before Bush."
11.17.2008 1:26pm
davod (mail):
"You're all fired, but you may reapply. The line forms at the right" Should read Left."
11.17.2008 2:06pm
davod (mail):
"Apparently the complete definition of change is "change back to the way things were before Bush."


Pr 9/11 mindset?
11.17.2008 2:56pm
MarkField (mail):

Mark, I would just like to say that my post is factually accurate as to the allegations concerning the firings.


Ok, but those allegations are false, too. See here and here.
11.17.2008 4:01pm
Brett Bellmore:
Congratulations, Mark, another debunking of different charges. Again, the allegation I related was that he demanded the resignation of all attorneys, (Ok, all but one, one of the Democratic Senators got his favorite exempted.) and then accepted those resignations only in the case of the attorneys investigating HIM. Keeping the rest on for a normal transitional period.

You can't seem to address the charge I actually related, which has nothing to do with subsequent Bush conduct. Hardly could, since the charges were leveled during Clinton's first term in office.

Whether or not Bush subsequently did something different is irrelevant.
11.17.2008 5:22pm
kpj (mail):
I don't think this appointment says much about Obama's policies and priorities and whether they will follow the Clinton mold. The Office of the White House Counsel is not a policy making position.
11.17.2008 9:40pm
MarkField (mail):

Congratulations, Mark, another debunking of different charges. Again, the allegation I related was that he demanded the resignation of all attorneys, (Ok, all but one, one of the Democratic Senators got his favorite exempted.) and then accepted those resignations only in the case of the attorneys investigating HIM.


Ok, but in my defense (a) it's really hard to keep track of wingnut charges against the Clintons; (b) there were no investigations of Clinton pending at the time he took office; and (c) as at least one of my links points out, Clinton replaced 89 USAs within the first year, so it wasn't the case that he replaced only selected ones.
11.17.2008 9:44pm
Brett Bellmore:
A. You had the particular wingnut charge in question on display right in front of you. What is this, as soon as you decide a charge is wingnut, you just throw a generic wingnut rebuttal at it, and ignore the particulars? Ok, do that, but don't expect wingnuts to feel rebutted if you do.

B, You wish. Half of the Clintons' legal problems dated back to things they'd been up to in Arkansas, and those investigations didn't start after the inauguration.

C. So what? The charge is that he was in a hurry to replace selected ones.

Anyway, at this point Obama has done nothing wrong with regards to attorney firings. Time will tell whether he will act on taking office to disrupt investigations of people he associated with in Chicago.

I'm suspecting he won't have to, that any prospect of somebody in Chicago singing went away when it became evident that they'd have a friend in charge of the Justice department soon enough, if they just clammed up. Obama would have to take affirmative action at this point, to keep that from coming into play, and nobody expects him to visit his pal Rezko and urge him to sing like a canary. Not even me.
11.18.2008 6:21am
MarkField (mail):
Brett: once more, there were no federal investigations of the Clintons at the time he took office. None, zip, nada. He didn't fire a US Attorney to prevent one, because there wasn't one -- that's why there was, eventually, a special prosecutor. And the basic charge was and is false, as I pointed out. Twice.
11.18.2008 11:12am