Clinton White House lawyer named top Obama counsel

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama is naming a prominent white collar defense attorney and veteran of the Clinton White House as his new top lawyer. Neil Eggleston will replace Obama’s long-time counsel, Kathryn Ruemmler, who is leaving after three years in the job.

Eggleston gained distinction as a White House lawyer during congressional investigations into President Bill Clinton’s Whitewater real estate transactions and the independent counsel probe into whether Clinton lied about his relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky. He also served as deputy chief counsel of the House special committee that investigated the Iran-Contra arms and money affair that ensnarled President Ronald Reagan.

Obama praised Eggleston’s “extraordinary expertise, credentials and experience.”

“He has a passion for public service, is renowned for his conscientiousness and foresight, and I look forward to working closely with him in the coming years,” Obama said Monday in a statement.

Obama had warm words for Ruemmler, who has planned to leave the White House for several months, calling her a valued friend and trusted adviser who had an “uncanny ability to see around the corners that nobody else in the room anticipates.”

Eggleston is a partner at Kirkland &Ellis, one of the nation’s biggest corporate law firms, where he advises corporations on issues ranging from corporate governance to internal investigations to allegations of fraud. He has represented individuals and companies facing criminal, congressional or regulatory investigations.

In choosing Eggleston, Obama is picking a lawyer familiar with the type of congressional confrontations the White House is likely to face in the last years of Obama’s presidency. Obama has already faced aggressive inquiries from congressional investigators in the Republican-controlled House, from the attack on the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya, to accusations that the Internal Revenue Service improperly scrutinized conservative nonprofit groups. A Republican takeover of the Senate in this year’s midterm elections would likely increase such inquiries.

“He brings a rare talent of combining good legal advice, good legal creativity a good grasp of legal issues with a sensitivity to the politics of the situation,” said former Rep. Lee Hamilton, D-Ind., who co-chaired the committee that investigated Iran-Contra in the late 1980s.

Hamilton noted that as two-term presidents enter their final years they “accumulate a lot of opposition and a lot of adversaries.”

“The White House counsel’s office becomes a very busy place in defending the president,” and Eggleston will be well suited for that role, he said.

Eggleston’s private sector work has also focused on helping companies navigate regulations imposed by Obama’s own administration. When he joined Kirkland &Ellis in 2012, Jeffrey Hammes, chairman of Kirkland’s global management executive committee, said Eggleston was joining the firms “at a time when increased government scrutiny and regulation, and the successes of our white collar practice, continue to increase demand for our experienced white collar and securities enforcement attorneys.”

In 2009, Eggleston represented then-Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel during the prosecution of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich on charges of corruption, including seeking to exchange an appointment to Obama’s old Senate seat for campaign cash or a job. He also represented former Clinton administration Transportation Secretary Federico Pena in an investigation by the Justice Department and former Clinton Labor Secretary Alexis Herman in an independent counsel probe. Both inquiries did not result in charges.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Mark James (left) and April Berg.
Moderates may decide a million-dollar battle for state House

Democrat April Berg and Republican Mark James are dueling in the 44th, a political swing district.

Lilah 2 TEASER
Langley man builds automatic candy dispenser for Halloween

People are still finding ways to partake in the holiday’s celebrations in a safe manner.

As seen in body-camera video, an Everett police sergeant places handcuffs on Joseph Michael Hill, 39, while kneeling on his back. Everett's chief says it was reasonable use of force. Hill's attorney disagrees. (Everett Police Department) 20200524
Plea deal reached in case of Black man pinned by Everett cop

Joseph Hill’s arrest led Everett police to amend their policy. All charges except resisting arrest were dropped.

Three people were shot at the Boo Han Oriental Market Tuesday, Sept. 29, 2020, off of Highway 99 in Edmonds. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Charges: Boo Han shooter stalked wife, sent alarming texts

Duy Nguyen is charged with killing his wife’s friend and wounding two others at an Edmonds market.

A masked passenger sits in front of an empty row of seats on an Alaska Airlines flight from Spokane to Sea-Tac Monday evening. (Julie Muhlstein) 20201026
Flying to see family, it was a risk that seemed like a must

After eight months of not seeing my 98-year-old mom, a trip to my Spokane hometown was short and sweet.

Firefighters were dispatched to a burning home Wednesday night in Monroe. (Snohomish Regional Fire & Rescue)
Fire crews fight blaze at Monroe-area house throughout night

No injuries were reported. Access to water was a challenge as firefighters fought the flames.

Darrington man sentenced in death of 2 horses he starved

He submitted an Alford plea, not admitting guilt but acknowledging a jury would likely convict him.

Capt. Robert Palmer (City of Snohomish)
Snohomish chief: ‘Please don’t open carry on the streets’

In a letter to the community, Robert Palmer also asks that protesters during this tense time remain peaceful.

TikToker Brett Kelly, 24, whose Pumpkin man character TikTok video will be aired on the CBS show The Greatest #AtHome Videos on Friday, Oct. 30, 2020. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
The TikTok ‘Pumpkin Man’ of Lake Stevens dances to TV fame

After his pandemic layoff from Macy’s, Brett Kelly, 24, has been adding to his 1.4 million followers.

Most Read