White House Counsel

Last updated
White House Counsel
Incumbent
Dana Remus

since January 20, 2021
Formation1943
First holder Samuel Rosenman

The White House counsel is a senior staff appointee of the president of the United States whose role is to advise the president on all legal issues concerning the president and their administration. The White House counsel also oversees the Office of White House Counsel, a team of lawyers and support staff who provide legal guidance for the president and the White House Office.

Contents

Dana Remus became the White House counsel in January 2021.

Responsibilities

The Office of Counsel to the President and Vice President was created in 1943, and is responsible for advising on all legal aspects of policy questions; legal issues arising in connection with the President's decision to sign or veto legislation, ethical questions, financial disclosures; and conflicts of interest during employment and post employment. The Counsel's office also helps define the line between official and political activities, oversees executive appointments and judicial selection, handles presidential pardons, reviews legislation and presidential statements, and handles lawsuits against the president in his role as president, as well as serving as the White House contact for the Department of Justice.

Limitations

Although the White House counsel offers legal advice to the president and vice president, the counsel does so in the president's and vice president's official capacity, and does not serve as the president's personal attorney. Therefore, controversy has emerged over the scope of the attorney–client privilege between the counsel and the president and vice president, namely with John Dean of Watergate notoriety. It is clear, however, that the privilege does not apply in strictly personal matters. It also does not apply to legislative proceedings by the U.S. Congress against the president due to allegations of misconduct while in office, such as formal censures or impeachment proceedings. In those situations the president relies on a personal attorney if he desires confidential legal advice. The office is also distinct from the judiciary, and from others who are not appointed to positions but nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate. These would be foremost the attorney general of the United States, and his or her principal deputy and other assistants, who are nominated by the president to oversee the United States Department of Justice, or the solicitor general of the United States and his or her staff (he or she is the fourth-ranking official in the Justice Department), who argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court (and in lower federal courts) for the Justice Department when it is a party to the case.

List of White House counsel

OfficeholderTerm startTerm endPresident
Samuel Rosenman October 2, 1943February 1, 1946 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Clark Clifford February 1, 1946January 31, 1950
Charles Murphy January 31, 1950January 20, 1953
Bernard Shanley January 20, 1953February 19, 1955 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Gerald Morgan February 19, 1955November 5, 1958
David Kendall November 5, 1958January 20, 1961
Ted Sorensen January 20, 1961February 29, 1964 John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Mike Feldman April 1964January 17, 1965
Lee White January 17, 1965February 11, 1966
Milton Semer February 14, 1966December 31, 1966
Harry McPherson February 11, 1966October 26, 1967
Larry Temple October 26, 1967January 20, 1969
John Ehrlichman January 20, 1969November 4, 1969 Richard Nixon
Charles Colson November 6, 1969July 9, 1970
John Dean July 9, 1970April 30, 1973
Leonard Garment April 30, 1973August 9, 1974
Philip Buchen August 9, 1974January 20, 1977 Gerald Ford
William Casselman August 9, 1974September 19, 1975
Phillip Areeda c. October 1, 1974c. February 1, 1975
Roderick Hills c. March 1, 1975c. October 1, 1975
Robert Lipshutz January 20, 1977October 1, 1979 Jimmy Carter
Lloyd Cutler October 1, 1979January 20, 1981
Fred Fielding January 20, 1981May 23, 1986 Ronald Reagan
Peter Wallison May 23, 1986March 20, 1987
Arthur Culvahouse March 20, 1987January 20, 1989
C. Boyden Gray January 20, 1989January 20, 1993 George H. W. Bush
Bernard Nussbaum January 20, 1993March 8, 1994 Bill Clinton
Lloyd Cutler March 8, 1994October 1, 1994
Abner Mikva October 1, 1994November 1, 1995
Jack Quinn November 1, 1995February 1997
Chuck Ruff February 1997August 6, 1999
Cheryl Mills
Acting
August 6, 1999September 1999
Beth Nolan September 1999January 20, 2001
Alberto Gonzales January 20, 2001February 3, 2005 George W. Bush
Harriet Miers February 3, 2005January 31, 2007
Fred Fielding January 31, 2007January 20, 2009
Greg Craig January 20, 2009January 3, 2010 Barack Obama
Bob Bauer January 3, 2010June 30, 2011
Kathryn Ruemmler June 30, 2011June 2, 2014
Neil Eggleston June 2, 2014January 20, 2017
Don McGahn January 20, 2017October 17, 2018 Donald Trump
Emmet Flood
Acting
October 18, 2018December 10, 2018
Pat Cipollone December 10, 2018January 20, 2021
Dana Remus January 20, 2021Present Joe Biden

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