Day 2 Action Plan: Impeachment Tops New White House Counsel’s Agenda

Ed Siskel recently made the move from Chicago to Washington to assume his new role as White House counsel. With just one day to settle into his office, located in a prime corner of the West Wing’s second floor, he quickly found himself facing a major challenge.

By his second day on the job, Speaker Kevin McCarthy had launched an impeachment inquiry against President Biden, thrusting both the president and Mr. Siskel into a high-stakes situation.

Despite the chaotic start, Mr. Biden expressed confidence in Mr. Siskel’s abilities, praising him as a seasoned lawyer who could hit the ground running in providing counsel on a wide range of matters. However, it was clear that the focus of the week would be squarely on the impeachment proceedings.

Having previously worked in the Obama White House, where he successfully navigated Republican investigations, Mr. Siskel, 51, brings a wealth of experience to the role. He now finds himself at the center of a political storm as a bloc of ultraconservative Republicans push for impeachment.

The White House, having prepared for such a situation over the past year, dismisses the impeachment effort as a political stunt without any substantial evidence of wrongdoing by President Biden or his family. However, Republicans are determined to scrutinize the family’s finances and correspondence, and the decisions made by Mr. Biden, with input from Mr. Siskel and his legal team, will have far-reaching consequences for both his presidency and potential 2024 campaign.

Raised on the North Shore of Chicago and a graduate of the University of Chicago Law School, Mr. Siskel’s legal career has been impressive. He has clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens and worked under U.S. attorney Patrick J. Fitzgerald, where he handled notable cases such as the Conrad Black fraud trial. Known for his integrity, sound judgment, and ability to navigate the intersection of politics and policy, Mr. Siskel comes highly recommended by those who have worked closely with him.

Those who know Mr. Siskel describe him as soft-spoken yet an excellent communicator, and he possesses deep knowledge of the legal precedents governing congressional investigations into the White House. This indicates that Republicans will face significant hurdles in obtaining the information they seek from the president.

While Mr. Siskel is no stranger to partisan battles, he is also known for his candor with clients. Prior to joining the White House, he served as a chief legal officer for an investment firm in Chicago. Leading a team of over 40 lawyers, he aims to provide strong legal counsel to President Biden, building on the groundwork laid by his predecessor, Stuart Delery.

During his time in the Obama administration, Mr. Siskel gained experience in handling congressional oversight issues and emerged as a crisis manager in response to Republican investigations into the Benghazi attack. Despite the lengthy inquiry, no new evidence against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was uncovered.

After leaving the White House, Mr. Siskel worked in private practice at the law firm WilmerHale before joining the office of Chicago’s mayor, Rahm Emanuel. Known for his political acumen and deep understanding of the legal landscape, Mr. Siskel has earned the respect and admiration of those he has worked with over the years.

Rahm Emanuel, former White House chief of staff under Mr. Obama and now the U.S. ambassador to Japan, praised Mr. Siskel for his legal expertise combined with a keen understanding of political dynamics. This unique combination is highly valued when working in leadership positions in both the White House and local government.

Jamie S. Gorelick, former deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration, highlighted Mr. Siskel’s ability to remain composed and focused in high-pressure environments. She predicted that he would protect the president and the White House steadfastly, while maintaining a professional and respectful demeanor.


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