White House Counsel

The White House Counsel is a staff appointee of the President of the United States whose role is to advise the President on all legal issues concerning the President and his Administration. Pat Cipollone is the current White House Counsel serving since December 2018.[1]

White House Counsel
Pat Cipollone

since December 10, 2018
First holderSamuel Rosenman


The Office of Counsel to the 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.

The White House Counsel offers legal advice to the President, the Counsel in the President's official capacity but does not serve as the President's personal attorney. The scope of the attorney–client privilege between the Counsel and the President, applies to official and not strictly personal matters. It also does not apply to legislative proceedings by the U.S. Congress against a President due to allegations of misconduct while in office, such as formal censures or impeachment proceedings. A President relies on a personal attorney for confidential legal advice. The office is 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 third-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 Counsels

Officeholder Term start Term end Deputy Counsel President
Samuel Rosenman October 2, 1943 February 1, 1946 Franklin D. Roosevelt
Harry S. Truman
Clark Clifford February 1, 1946 January 31, 1950
Charles Murphy January 31, 1950 January 20, 1953
Bernard Shanley January 20, 1953 February 19, 1955 Dwight D. Eisenhower
Gerald Morgan February 19, 1955 November 5, 1958
David Kendall November 5, 1958 January 20, 1961
Ted Sorensen January 20, 1961 February 29, 1964 John F. Kennedy
Lyndon B. Johnson
Mike Feldman April 1964 January 17, 1965
Lee White January 17, 1965 February 11, 1966
Milton Semer February 14, 1966 December 31, 1966
Harry McPherson February 11, 1966 October 26, 1967
Larry Temple October 26, 1967 January 20, 1969
John Ehrlichman January 20, 1969 November 4, 1969 Fred Fielding (5/1973 to ?) Richard Nixon
Charles Colson November 6, 1969 July 9, 1970
John Dean July 9, 1970 April 30, 1973
Leonard Garment April 30, 1973 August 9, 1974
Philip Buchen August 9, 1974 January 20, 1977 Philip Areeda (10/1974 to 2/1975)

Roderick Hills (4/1975 to 10/1975)

Edward C. Schmults (10/1975 to 1/1977)

Gerald Ford
William Casselman August 9, 1974 September 19, 1975
Phillip Areeda c. October 1, 1974 c. February 1, 1975
Roderick Hills c. March 1, 1975 c. October 1, 1975
Robert Lipshutz January 20, 1977 October 1, 1979 Margaret A. McKenna (1/1977 to 12/1979)

Joseph Onek (9/1979 to 1/1981)

Michael Cardozo (10/1979 to 1/1981)

Jimmy Carter
Lloyd Cutler October 1, 1979 January 20, 1981
Fred Fielding January 20, 1981 May 23, 1986 Richard A. Hauser (1/1981 to ?)

Herbert E. Ellingwood (1/1981 to ?)

Jay B. Stephens (?/1986 to ?/1987)

Phillip D. Brady (?/1988 to 1/1989)

Ronald Reagan
Peter Wallison May 23, 1986 March 20, 1987
Arthur Culvahouse March 20, 1987 January 20, 1989
C. Boyden Gray January 20, 1989 January 20, 1993 Joel P. Schmitz (1/1989 to 1/1993) George H. W. Bush
Bernard Nussbaum January 20, 1993 March 8, 1994 Vincent W. Foster (1/1993 to 7/1993)

Joel I. Klein (7/1993 to 3/1995)

James Castello (3/1995 to ?)

Kathleen Wallman (?/1996 to ?)

Cheryl Mills (?/1996 to 8/1999)

Bruce R. Lindsey (1/1993 to 1/2001)

William P. Marshall (12/1999 to 1/2001)

Bill Clinton
Lloyd Cutler March 8, 1994 October 1, 1994
Abner Mikva October 1, 1994 November 1, 1995
Jack Quinn November 1, 1995 February 1997
Chuck Ruff February 1997 September 1999
Beth Nolan September 1999 January 20, 2001
Alberto Gonzales January 20, 2001 February 3, 2005 Timothy E. Flanigan (1/2001 to 11/2002, 11/2004 to ?)

David G. Leitch (12/2002 to ?)

William K. Kelley (3/2005 to 3/2007)

J. Michael Farren (2/2007 to 10/2008)

William Burck (10/2008 to 1/2009)

Emmet Flood (10/2008 to 1/2009)

George W. Bush
Harriet Miers February 3, 2005 January 31, 2007
Fred Fielding January 31, 2007 January 20, 2009
Greg Craig January 20, 2009 January 3, 2010 Daniel Meltzer (1/2009 to 1/2010)

Mary DeRosa (1/2009 to 6/2011)

Neal Wolin (1/2009 to 12/2009)

Cassandra Butts (1/2009 to 1/2010)

Kathryn Ruemmler (12/2009 to 6/2011)

Caroline Cheng (12/2009 to 6/2011, 1/2013 to 12/2013)

Christopher Fonzone (5/2014 to ?)

Michael Bosworth (5/2014 to ?)

Mark Aziz (5/2014 to ?)

Barack Obama
Bob Bauer January 3, 2010 June 30, 2011
Kathryn Ruemmler June 30, 2011 June 2, 2014
Neil Eggleston June 2, 2014 January 20, 2017
Don McGahn January 20, 2017 October 17, 2018 Gregory Katsas

Makan Delrahim

Uttam Dhillon

Stefan Passantino

John A. Eisenberg

Patrick F. Philbin

Kate Comerford Todd

Michael Purpura

Donald Trump
Emmet Flood
October 18, 2018 December 10, 2018
Pat Cipollone December 10, 2018 present


Tyler McGaughey, the husband of William Barr's youngest daughter, was hired from US attorney's office in Alexandria, Virginia. Walter Shaub, the former director of the United States Office of Government Ethics, said McGaughey’s beeline for the White House was "concerning."[2][3]

See also


  1. ^ JOHNSON, ELIANA (December 4, 2018). "New White House counsel to arrive as Democrats, Mueller close in". Politico. Retrieved December 27, 2018.
  2. ^ Bess Levin (February 14, 2019). "William Barr's Son-in-Law Just Landed a Job Advising Trump on "Legal Issues; Tyler McGaughey's work will "intersect" with the Russia investigation". VanityFair.com. Retrieved 20 February 2019.
  3. ^ David Shortell, Laura Jarrett, and Pamela Brown (February 13, 2019). "Daughter and son-in-law of AG nominee leaving the Justice Department". CNN.com. Retrieved 20 February 2019.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)

External links

Cassandra Butts

Cassandra Quin Butts (August 10, 1965 – May 25, 2016) was an American lawyer, policy expert, and Deputy White House counsel. On December 23, 2008, Butts was selected by President-elect Obama to serve as Deputy White House Counsel, focusing on domestic policy and ethics. She was on the advisory board for then-president-elect Barack Obama's presidential transition team.She stepped down as Deputy White House Counsel in November 2009 and served as Senior Advisor in the Office of the Chief Executive Officer at the Millennium Challenge Corporation. In February 2014, Obama nominated her to be the ambassador to the Bahamas, but by February 1, 2015, the Senate had not confirmed her to the post. She was re-nominated to the position on February 5, 2015.

Charles Ruff

Charles Frederick Carson Ruff (August 1, 1939 – November 19, 2000) was a prominent American lawyer based in Washington, D.C., and was best known as the White House Counsel who defended President Bill Clinton during his impeachment trial in 1999.

Counselor to the President

Counselor to the President is a title used by high-ranking political advisors to the President of the United States and senior members of the White House Office.

The current office-holders are Kellyanne Conway and Johnny DeStefano.

It should not be confused with the office of White House Counsel, who is the chief legal advisor to the President and the White House, which is also an appointed position.

David W. Kendall

David W. Kendall (February 11, 1903 – December 27, 1976) was an American attorney who served as the White House Counsel to President Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1958 to 1961.

Don McGahn

Donald Francis McGahn II (born June 16, 1968) is an American lawyer and political figure. He served as White House Counsel for U.S. President Donald Trump, from the start of his administration through October 17, 2018. Previously, he served on the Federal Election Commission for over five years.

Fred F. Fielding

Fred Fisher Fielding (born March 21, 1939) is an American lawyer. He held the office of White House Counsel for US Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush in addition to serving as an Associate and Deputy White House Counsel for Richard Nixon under John Dean. Fielding was also of counsel to the presidential transition of Donald Trump.

Gregory B. Craig

Gregory Bestor Craig (born March 4, 1945) is an American lawyer and former White House Counsel under President Barack Obama from 2009 to 2010. A former attorney at the Washington, D.C. law firm of Williams & Connolly, Craig has represented numerous high-profile clients. Prior to becoming White House Counsel, Craig served as assistant to the President and special counsel in the White House of President Bill Clinton, where he directed the team defending Clinton against impeachment. Craig also served as a senior advisor to Senator Edward Kennedy and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

Harriet Miers

Harriet Ellan Miers (born August 10, 1945) is an American lawyer who served as White House Counsel to President George W. Bush from 2005 to 2007. A member of the Republican Party since 1988, she previously served as White House Staff Secretary from 2001 to 2003 and White House Deputy Chief of Staff for Policy from 2003 until 2005. In 2005, she was nominated by Bush to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States to replace retiring Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, but bipartisan opposition led President Bush to withdraw the nomination.

John Dean

John Wesley Dean III (born October 14, 1938) is a former attorney who served as White House Counsel for United States President Richard Nixon from July 1970 until April 1973, where he became deeply involved in events leading up to the Watergate burglaries and the subsequent Watergate scandal cover-up. He was referred to as the "master manipulator of the cover-up" by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). He pleaded guilty to a single felony count, in exchange for becoming a key witness for the prosecution. This ultimately resulted in a reduced prison sentence, which he served at Fort Holabird outside Baltimore, Maryland.

Shortly after the Watergate hearings, Dean wrote about his experiences in a series of books and traveled around the United States to lecture. Dean is currently a commentator on contemporary politics, authoring books, and writing a column for FindLaw's Writ online magazine. He is strongly critical of neoconservatism and the Republican Party, and is a registered Independent. He has been strongly critical of Presidents George W. Bush and Donald Trump.

Kathryn Ruemmler

Kathryn "Kathy" Ruemmler (born April 19, 1971) is an attorney who formerly served as White House Counsel to President Barack Obama. She previously worked as Principal Deputy White House Counsel. She is a partner at Latham and Watkins and co-chairs its white-collar defense group.

Lloyd Cutler

Lloyd Norton Cutler (November 10, 1917 – May 8, 2005) was an American attorney, who served as White House Counsel during the Democratic administrations of Presidents Carter and Clinton.

Neil Eggleston

Warren Neil Eggleston (born July 5, 1953) is an American lawyer who served as the White House Counsel under President Barack Obama. Eggleston was the fourth person to hold this post during the Obama administration.

Pat Cipollone

Pat A. Cipollone is an American lawyer. He is currently the White House Counsel under President Donald Trump.

Philip W. Buchen

Philip William Buchen (February 27, 1916 – May 21, 2001) was an American attorney who served as White House Counsel during the Ford Administration.

Buchen was born in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, the son of State Senator Gustave Buchen. In his youth he contracted polio and thereafter walked with a cane. He graduated from Sheboygan High School in 1935 and received his law degree in 1941 from the University of Michigan, where he met Gerald Ford. At Michigan, he was a member of Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity. He opened a law practice in Grand Rapids, Michigan with Ford in May 1941.

Buchen continued to practice law in Grand Rapids until 1974, when he came to Washington to serve on Vice President Ford's staff. He served as chief White House Counsel with Cabinet rank for the duration of Ford's presidency. When Ford left office, Buchen remained in Washington, practicing law with the firm of Dewey Ballantine until 1995. Buchen served on the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts from 1977 to 1981.

Robert Bauer

Robert F. Bauer (born February 22, 1952) is an American attorney who previously served as White House Counsel under President Barack Obama.

Robert Lipshutz

Robert Jerome Lipshutz (December 27, 1921 – November 6, 2010) was an American attorney who served first as the national campaign treasurer for Jimmy Carter's successful 1976 run for the United States Presidency and then as the White House Counsel from 1977 to 1979 during Carter's administration. He played a back channel role in the negotiations between Egypt and Israel that led to the signing of the Camp David Accords in 1978.

Vince Foster

Vincent Walker Foster Jr. (January 15, 1945 – July 20, 1993) was a Deputy White House Counsel during the first six months of President Bill Clinton's administration. He had been a partner at Rose Law Firm in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he was a colleague and friend of Hillary Rodham Clinton and where, as The Washington Post later wrote, he rose to "the pinnacle of the Arkansas legal establishment." At the White House he was unhappy with work in politics and spiraled into depression. Five official governmental investigations ruled Foster's death by gunshot a suicide, but several conspiracy theories emerged.

William E. Casselman II

William E. Casselman II (born July 8, 1941) is an American attorney who served as a White House Counsel to President Gerald Ford from 1974 to 1975.

William K. Kelley

William K. Kelley served as Deputy Counsel to United States President George W. Bush. He worked as a deputy to White House Counsel Harriet Miers prior to her departure from the White House, and Counsel Fred Fielding, who succeeded Miers.Kelley is a professor at the University of Notre Dame Law School who took a leave of absence to work at the White House. He returned to Notre Dame in the 2007-2008 academic year. He earned his B.A. from Marquette University in 1984 and his J.D. from Harvard in 1987. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Admitted to the Ohio Bar in 1990, Professor Kelley clerked for Kenneth W. Starr on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington, D.C. (1987–88), as well as for Chief Justice Warren E. Burger and Associate Justice Antonin Scalia (1988–89).

Kelley worked with the Office of the Special Counsel when Kenneth Starr was investigating the Whitewater / Monica Lewinsky incidents, writing the brief for the case. During the Florida election recount, Kelley was a member of the so-called Cabal, a group of former law clerks to conservative Supreme Court justices. The clerks argued the Supreme Court justices would want to grant certiorari to hear the controversy that would become, Bush v. Gore.

White House Counsels

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