There's lots of speculation in Washington today about the future of White House Counsel Gregory Craig, after The Wall Street Journal cited unnamed sources saying Craig's job is in jeopardy. The White House has dismissed the story as rumor, while Politico says the story’s been kicking around for a month and The Washington Independent wonders who’s out to get Craig.
So, if Craig were to go, who would be next in line?
In many cases, presidents have looked for lawyers with major stature in Washington’s legal community. Craig had been a long-time partner at Williams & Connolly who represented President Bill Clinton during Clinton’s impeachment trial. He succeeded Fred Fielding, who was President George W. Bush’s last counsel and who had earlier served as counsel to President Ronald Reagan.
Perkins Coie partner Robert Bauer serves as President Barack Obama’s chief election lawyer, as general counsel to Obama’s ongoing political organization and to the Democratic National Committee. Bauer was considered a leading candidate for the counsel’s job before Obama announced his choice of Craig shortly after the November election.
Lisa Brown, as the White House staff secretary, holds the position that Harriet Miers had before Miers became counsel to Bush. And like Craig, she was an early selection for the Obama administration. She previously was executive director of the liberal American Constitution Society.
As Legal Times reported in February, Craig has built up a counsel’s office with unprecedented heft. Daniel Meltzer, a longtime Harvard Law professor, is principal deputy, though presidents have generally not drawn their counsels from academia. The other two top deputies are Cassandra Butts, a former vice president at the liberal Center for American Progress and Harvard Law classmate of Obama, and Mary DeRosa, deputy counsel for national security who previously worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee.
A couple of other possible fits: Mark Alexander, a law professor at Seton Hall University who was a senior adviser to the Obama campaign and is formerly of Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher; and Ronald Klain, chief of staff to Vice President Joe Biden and formerly of O’Melveny & Myers.
Craig was an early supporter of Obama’s among Washington’s legal elite, after having known the Clintons since their days together at Yale Law School.