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After Months of Denials, Greg Craig Out As White House Counsel

November 13, 2009 7:44 AM

As has been rumored for months, White House counsel Greg Craig will announce his resignation today, effective at the end of the year, senior administration officials tell ABC News. Craig will be replaced by attorney Bob Bauer, who has served as President Obama's private attorney. Bauer will start work in December, so as to help create a seamless transition.

Senior administration sources confirmed last night what Craig was denying vehemently as recently as a few weeks ago.

“I have no plans to leave whatsoever,” Craig told the National Law Journal in October. "The rumors that I'm about to leave are false. The reports that I'm about to leave are wrong. I have no plans to leave."

Bauer, the husband of outgoing White House communications director Anita Dunn, was an aggressive campaign counsel for then-Sen. Obama, crashing a conference call held by the campaign of then-Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, and dismissing complaints by Sen. John McCain's campaign counsel.  He is currently the chair of the Political Law Group of Perkins Coie LLP.

Craig originally headed up White House efforts to close the detainee center at Guantanamo Bay and was one of the driving forces recommending that President Obama sign the executive order in January ordering it shuttered within a year, a deadline that almost certainly will not be met. Inside and outside of the White House Craig has been criticized for this failure, and for not necessarily meshing well with other White House players.

Senior administration officials came to his defense today.

"There is a firm belief from the President on down that Greg is taking more blame than he deserves for Gitmo," a senior administration official told ABC News. "This was a decision made by the President and supported by many officials."

But fair or not, Craig "become the face of a very difficult and polarizing policy," the official said.

Craig also took heat for recommending that the President release Bush-era memos from the Justice Department's Office of Leal Counsel that sought to legally justify interrogation techniques widely considered torture. He was also part of the President's decision to release detainee photographs, which was followed by the decision to not release those same photographs.

"That could have been handled better by a lot of people, Greg included," said the official. "He had a tough tenure, he had a tough set of issues."

The official cast today's pending announcement in the context of Craig never really wanting to be White House counsel to begin with.

"Greg originally wanted a foreign policy job, but Hillary becoming Secretary of State complicated that," the official said, alluding to Secretary Clinton's feelings of betrayal after Craig, a former White House Special Counsel for Bill Clinton, endorsed Obama during the primaries and became one of his most ardent defenders and a pointed critic of his former boss's wife.

Craig wanted to stay in private practice, but "Obama pushed to be counsel," the official said. "It was a tough job for him and never was a job he wanted. And he got a barrage of s--- for it."

"He does not leave with the ill will of the president," the official said.

The weird Washington kabuki began over the summer, when the Washington Post's Al Kamen reported that a "rumor has been circulating for several weeks inside and outside the administration that White House Counsel Gregory Craig is on his way out as the top lawyer in the West Wing."

"Sounds like typical Washington parlor games to me," deputy White House chief of staff Jim Messina emailed in response. "These rumors are wrong."

White House officials vociferously denied the story to ABC News and other outlets.

In August, the Wall Street Journal reported that "Obama administration officials are holding discussions that could result in White House counsel Gregory Craig leaving his post, following a rocky tenure, people familiar with the matter said."

White House Deputy Chief of Staff Jim Messina said: "We've addressed these rumors before. They are nothing more than typical Washington parlor games. It's disappointing that while we are focused on reviving the economy and fighting two wars, others spend their time pointing fingers in an attempt to promote their own status."

In September, the Washington Post's Anne Kornblut and ProPublica's Dafna Linzer reported that three administration officials told them that they expected Craig to leave his current post in the near future.

On October 23, Fox News Channel's Major Garrett reported that Bauer "is emerging as the top candidate to replace Greg Craig as White House Counsel... Democrats close to the situation said Bauer is under serious consideration as Craig's replacement. Craig is expected to leave the White House by year's end - if not sooner."

Again, from the White House and Craig: denials.

Asked if Craig resigned today because the president is out of town, and thus his resignation may get less press attention, the senior administration official denied that was the case.

"This has been the date planned for a long time," the official said.

But wait -- what about all those denials?

Oh, never mind.

-- jpt

November 13, 2009 | Permalink | Share | User Comments (25)

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. He has lost all credibility from calling terrorism "man mad disasters"
__________________________________

Care to provide a source and a date for this . .

Posted by: tierra | Nov 13, 2009 11:11:13 PM

Obama is Nixon. He has lost all credibility from calling terrorism "man mad disasters" to turning the 911 mastermind loose on liberal NY Democrat judges who could possibly set him free because of water-boarding.

Posted by: ObamaSucks | Nov 13, 2009 8:38:01 PM

This clown was nothing but a partisan hack with an agenda.
Glad he is going.

Posted by: uisignorant | Nov 13, 2009 1:44:42 PM

The only thing of interest here is his name. What were his parents thinking? Why do we always make a big fuss when someone leaves an administration?

Posted by: Joe Eckhardt | Nov 13, 2009 1:22:48 PM

"We've addressed these rumors before. They are nothing more than typical Washington parlor games."
__________________________________

That is not a denial Jake. That is an acknowledgement that people in Washington like to boast about knowing inside information (and spreading it) before the formal announcements are made. "Washington parlor games".

Posted by: tierra | Nov 13, 2009 12:49:36 PM

This administration is transparent all
right. You can see their lies a mile
away.

Posted by: wis134 | Nov 13, 2009 12:38:04 PM

Anyone notice the big greasy spot on the beltway from where the body was hit by the Obama bus?

By the way Pittsburg, Beck stated this a few weeks ago-not months.

Posted by: david | Nov 13, 2009 12:32:48 PM

Thank you Jack Tapper for being the only MSM reporter doing their job. I'm surprised the MSM/White House hasn't turned on you as well as Fox News.
Keep up the good work.
Ted Condo

Posted by: Ted Condo | Nov 13, 2009 12:04:22 PM

Glenn Beck called this months ago. Once again, Glenn and Fox News show why they are one of the few remaining sources of real news left in the country.

Posted by: Pittsburgh Patriot | Nov 13, 2009 11:38:19 AM

Awwwwww .... poor, poor Jake ... Wah! The admin told me he wasn't leaving now he is. That's just not fair! The WH press is a bunch of jouveniles ...

Posted by: mk3872 | Nov 13, 2009 11:16:38 AM

The leader of the enforcers for the new socialist party is down but will be replaced with the same. Hisss Priiivate Atttorneyyyy. Must be nice to have one in the pocket to pull out like a puppet. Oh sorry, Obama is Polosi and Reids puppet. Can't have two.

Posted by: Jim Rod | Nov 13, 2009 11:06:17 AM

C'mon guys, the POTUS/FLOTUS chose a dog for the family and came up with a name for it too!

Be fair!

Posted by: macronesia | Nov 13, 2009 10:43:23 AM

When this administration denies things, the denials mean nothing.

Posted by: Fascist Hyena | Nov 13, 2009 10:39:24 AM

this is simple..his reason for leaving?...to avoid Jail,.... after 2010 and the investigations begin into this regime, there will be time to pay

What is Obama withholding on the Ft Hood INvestigation? ...

Posted by: mickey maoist | Nov 13, 2009 9:57:28 AM

Can anyone say "scapegoat"?

This lies at the feet of The Chosen One and no one else.

Bottom line, period, end of sentence, paragraph, end of the story.

Pathetic. Sad. But oh so very, VERY true.

"A man who reads nothing is far smarter than a man who reads nothing but newspapers." -- T. Jefferson; 1789

Posted by: thirteenburn | Nov 13, 2009 9:48:38 AM

And yet another of Obama's picks bites the dust, having to resign under the scrutinty that Obama hoped wouldn't happen...you know, especially since he had all but Fox News in his back pocket and THEY wouldn't question him.

Huh. Funny how fast the "Christ"-like Chosen One has become nothing more than a false Prophet.

Pathetic. Sad. But oh so very, VERY true.

"A man who reads nothing is far smarter than a man who reads nothing but newspapers." -- T. Jefferson; 1789

Posted by: thirteenburn | Nov 13, 2009 9:45:08 AM

"On October 23, Fox News Channel's Major Garrett reported that Bauer 'is emerging as the top candidate to replace Greg Craig as White House Counsel... Democrats close to the situation said Bauer is under serious consideration as Craig's replacement. Craig is expected to leave the White House by year's end - if not sooner.'"

Looks like Fox was right.

Some background on Anita Dunn's husband:

Robert Bauer, the chief of the political law group at Perkins Coie, the Seattle law firm hired by the White House to defend President Obama in court cases challenging his "natural born" citizenship status in the United States and thus, his eligibility under the U.S. Constitution to be president.

Also during the 2008 presidential campaign, Bauer as counsel for the Obama campaign wrote letters to television station managers and to Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General John Keeney arguing that airing an anti-Obama ad pointing to the known association between Obama and Weather Underground radical Bill Ayers would violate federal election rules.

In addition to representing Obama on eligibility cases, Bauer also is hired as legal counsel to represent the president in the criminal probe going on into the activities of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Posted by: WhereWasThePress? | Nov 13, 2009 9:30:12 AM

1 year into this term and he has accomplished what? anybody have anything?
Posted by: JJJ | Nov 13, 2009 8:41:15 AM

BTW: The less he does the better off we are in the long run.

Posted by: Visualize Whirled Peas | Nov 13, 2009 9:10:59 AM

1 year into this term and he has accomplished what? anybody have anything?
Posted by: JJJ | Nov 13, 2009 8:41:15 AM

Dinner & a show with the wife
Ice cream with the kids
Burgers with Joe

Posted by: Visualize Whirled Peas | Nov 13, 2009 9:09:58 AM

1 year into this term and he has accomplished what? anybody have anything? come on there has to be one thing other than the $24,000 per car clunker thing.

Posted by: JJJ | Nov 13, 2009 8:41:15 AM

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