As the White House prepares for an expected rush of information requests from Republican congressmen, President Barack Obama's legal staff has picked up a lawyer from the U.S. Department of Justice.
Edward Siskel, most recently an associate deputy attorney general, has joined the White House Counsel's Office, an administration official said. Siskel’s duties will encompass a broad array of issues, including oversight from Congress, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The hiring is the first publicly known addition to Obama’s team of lawyers since Republicans won control of the House of Representatives in November. The National Law Journal reported last month that two White House lawyers, principal deputy counsel Kathryn Ruemmler and associate counsel Kimberley Harris, had been tasked with preparing an initial response to the expected investigations.
Newly chosen Republican chairmen have pledged to step-up oversight of the executive branch, a job that they say their Democratic predecessors largely ignored. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, has outlined a list of topics he plans to look into, including regulations on businesses.
Siskel was appointed two years ago as a senior counsel to then-Deputy Attorney General David Ogden. He had been working in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois, and previously he was an associate at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr in Washington (where Ogden is a longtime partner). Siskel, a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens during the Supreme Court’s 2001-2002 term.
During his time in the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Siskel handled at least one very high-profile assignment: the fraud case of newspaper publisher Conrad Black, on appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Siskel argued the appeal for the government in June 2008 against Mayer Brown partner Andrew Frey. Writing for a unanimous panel, Judge Richard Posner ruled for the government. (In 2010, the Supreme Court vacated honest-services fraud charges against Black. Other parts on the case are ongoing.)
Ruemmler, a former Latham & Watkins partner, also came to the White House after working for Ogden at DOJ.
Updated at 2:07 p.m. with further background.