White House counsel to leave administration

White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler is departing the Obama administration at the end of the calendar year, White House press secretary Jay Carney said Wednesday.

"She is an enormous asset and a very important advisor to the president," Carney said.

"We will all be sad to see her go."

Ruemmler, an administration veteran who was promoted from deputy White House counsel in 2011, informed the president she plans to step down by the end of the year and seek a job in New York City, the Associated Press reported Wednesday.

Ruemmler, an administration veteran who was promoted from deputy White House counsel in 2011, informed the president she plans to step down by the end of the year and seek a job in New York City.

A former prosecutor, Ruemmler has been a top player in developing administration policy on issues ranging from immigration policy to the war on terror. 

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She came under particular scrutiny earlier this year as the White House juggled a series of controversies. Each time she played a central role in the administration's response.

When an IRS audit found that the tax collection agency had been targeting conservative political groups, it was Ruemmler's decision not to tell the president about the findings in an attempt to shield Obama from charges he interfered in the investigation.

She also advised the president to resist congressional demands to release draft talking points following last year's attack on the U.S. compound in Benghazi, Libya, infuriating congressional Republicans. 

In 2011, Ruemmler also provoked congressional ire when she sent a letter to the House Energy and Commerce Committee flatly stating there was no evidence the White House helped failed green energy company Solyndra win a government loan on behalf of a campaign donor.

Ruemmler also advised the president against disclosing details of the administration's drone program, including the targeted killing of American citizen and al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki. At the time, Ruemmler cautioned that disclosures would weaken the government's position in pending legislation by civil rights groups and journalists seeking more information about drone strikes.

President Obama did eventually disclose al-Awlaki's killing, as well as the legal justification and procedures for drone strikes.

Ruemmler was also the one who informed President Obama and his then-chief of staff, Jack Lew, that his signature health care law had been upheld by the Supreme Court in a ruling last June.

The White House would not comment on questions about a potential replacement for Ruemmler.


-This post was updated at 1:43 p.m.

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