White House Counsel

White House Counsel

The White House Counsel is a staff appointee of the President of the United States.



The Counsel's role is to advise the President on all legal issues concerning the President and the White House. The current White House Counsel is Kathryn Ruemmler.


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.


Although the White House Counsel offers legal advice to the President, the Counsel does so in the 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. It is clear, however, that the privilege does not apply in personal matters, such as impeachment proceedings; thus, in such situations the President relies on a personal attorney for confidential legal advice.

Current counsel

Of the 20 senior, associate, and deputy associate counselors at the commencement of the Obama Administration, eleven were women. Half were from either Harvard Law School or Yale Law School. Two attended Columbia Law School; two attended Stanford Law School. Several other top law schools were represented by one counselor. Most attended top undergraduate institutions as well.[1]

Senior Counsels include:

  • Assistant to the President and Counsel to the President: Kathryn Ruemmler[2]
    • Deputy Counsel to the President for National Security Affairs and Legal Adviser to the National Security Council: Mary DeRosa
    • Deputy Counsel:Leslie Kiernan

List of White House Counsels


External links

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