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Obama picks former Clinton impeachment lawyer to be White House counsel

[JURIST] US president-elect Barack Obama [transition website] has reportedly selected [Washington Post report] Gregory Craig [professional profile] to serve as White House counsel. Craig, who was an adviser to Obama during the presidential campaign, led former President Bill Clinton's defense during his 1998 impeachment proceedings [PBS materials; JURIST materials]. In 2000, Craig represented the father of Elian Gonzalez [BBC backgrounder] in his successful effort to gain custody of his son and bring him back to Cuba from the US. In 1981-82, Craig defended John Hinckley [PBS profile], who was accused of an assassination attempt on former President Ronald Reagan. As White House counsel, Craig will succeed Fred Fielding [White House statement], who has served as President George W. Bush's counsel since January, following the resignation of erstwhile US Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers [official profile] in 2007. Miers succeeded Bush's initial White House counsel, former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales [official profile].

Several high-profile legal issues await Craig at the White House. Last week, advisers to Obama emphasized [JURIST report] that he had not made a decision regarding the future of the military prison camp at Guantanamo Bay. John Podesta, co-chair of Obama's transition team, has said Obama is making plans to issue executive orders [JURIST report] to reverse some policies implemented during the Bush administration, including limitations on stem cell research and expansion of domestic drilling for oil and gas.

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