President Obama will nominate former U.S. Department of Defense general counsel Jeh Johnson as the next Secretary of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, a senior White House official said Thursday.
Johnson, a litigation partner in the Washington office of Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, "is one the most highly qualified and respected national security leaders" who "was known for his sound judgment and counsel" during seven years at the Defense Department, the White House official said.
Obama will announce his intent to nominate Johnson at 2 p.m. Friday at the White House. Johnson would replace Janet Napolitano, who resigned in July after four years at the helm of the department.
The White House also touted Johnson's experience at the Defense Department during two administrations, and his "willingness to implement complex and dramatic policy changes." Johnson co-authored a report that defused the controversy allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly, part of the movement to repeal Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell in 2010.
Johnson was a litigation partner for two decades at Paul Weiss, and was general counsel of the Air Force during the Clinton administration. He was a policy adviser and top fundraiser for Obama's 2008 campaign.
Representative John Conyers (D-Mich.), the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, announced his support for the nomination. "Mr. Johnson has had a brilliant legal career in private practice, working as a civil and criminal trial lawyer on notable commercial cases, and was elected to be his firm's first African American partner," Conyers said.