Obama lawyers head to Capitol Hill to push for judicial nominee

President Obama's top attorney and her replacement will join Senate Democrats for their weekly luncheon Thursday on Capitol Hill, according to a senior administration official.

Kathy Ruemmler, who serves as White House council, will use the meeting as an opportunity to introduce lawmakers to Neil Eggleston, a white-collar attorney who is slated to take over for her later this month.

ADVERTISEMENT
The pair is also expected to push Democratic lawmakers to support David Barron, an appellate court nominee who has drawn scrutiny over his role in drafting legal opinions supporting the president's drone policies.

Barron, who worked in the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel, prepared documents providing the legal rationale for a September 2011 drone strike that killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical Muslim cleric born in the United States accused of plotting terrorist attacks against America.

Some Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.), have said they would not vote for Barron unless the White House releases the drone memo for public review. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) has signaled he would place a hold on Barron over the issue

Last week, the administration announced that it would allow senators to review a pair of memos written by Barron in a secure setting in a bid to curry the support of some reluctant lawmakers.

Since then, Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), who had publicly called for greater transparency on the issue, has said he would support Barron's nomination.

A White House official stressed that Ruemmler's appearance shouldn't be read as concern over Barron's nomination with the Democratic members of the Judiciary Committee and Senate Democratic leadership all voicing support for his appointment.

It’s possible that the meeting will also cover the nomination of Michael Boggs for a judgeship in Georgia. That nomination is facing resistance from Democrats, who are concerned about votes Boggs took as a legislator on the Confederate flag, abortion and gay rights.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Wednesday said he “can’t vote” for Boggs until he gets more satisfying answers about his past positions.

The meeting could also focus on the transition between White House counsels. Ruemmler has played a central advisory and policy role in the White House, working on controversies including Solyndra, Benghazi, IRS targeting, and the administration's drone policy.

Eggleston, a Washington veteran, might be familiar to some of the lawmakers in the room. He worked as a White House lawyer during the Clinton administration and later represented the former president during the investigation into the Monica Lewinsky affair.

He also represented Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel, then the White House chief of staff, during the prosecution of former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich (D), who was convicted of attempting to solicit bribes for an appointment to the Senate seat Obama vacated.

The attendance by the White House officials was first reported by The Washington Post.

More in News

Obama pushes back on Sen. Menendez in his hometown newspaper

Read more »