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Obama Names White House Counsel

Craig Gregory B. Craig is "certainly the only trial lawyer who has represented a president (Bill Clinton) and a man who shot a president (John W. Hinckley Jr.)," says The New York Times. On Saturday, the Williams & Connolly partner achieved another presidential parallel -- he was selected by President-elect Barack Obama to be White House counsel. Craig was chief coordinator of the legal team that represented former President Clinton at his impeachment trial in Congress and one of the lawyers who helped win Hinckley a verdict of not guilty by reason of insanity.

The 63-year-old Craig is a graduate of Harvard College (1967) and Yale Law School (1972). At Yale, he befriended the Clintons and was their longtime friend. But he threw his support to Obama early in the campaign, after being introduced to him at the home of Vernon Jordan. As Politico, which first reported his appointment Saturday, observed, "His selection adds to the surprisingly large number of Clinton White House veterans who are at the top of the Obama roster." The AmLaw Daily adds this:

"Craig is well-known in Washington circles, having served an assistant and special counsel to President Bill Clinton from 1998-99, and as a senior adviser and policy planning director for Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Craig also spent five years, from 1984 to 1988, as Senator Edward Kennedy's senior adviser on defense, foreign policy, and national security issues."

The NYT profile describes Craig as carrying "very little" baggage. A less-kind 2000 profile published by the National Review portrayed him as an innocent "dupe." Noting that a recommendation for Craig's application to Harvard described him as "Adam before the Fall," the NR piece criticized him as perhaps too innocent for failing to recognize witness bias at a 1984 hearing he organized for Sen. Edward Kennedy  on alleged human rights abuses in Nicaragua. That article aside, the general reaction to Obama's pick of Craig, at least so far, is praise. As Politico put it, Craig offers the administration "both experience and loyalty."

Posted by Robert J. Ambrogi on November 17, 2008 at 02:03 PM | Permalink | Comments (1)


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