Now comes word late tonight that Bauer is indeed — as has been rumored for nearly a month via Glenn Beck and FNC (so much for not news, huh?) — taking over the White House counsel position from Greg Craig. Ed Henry at CNN reports:
In the first major shakeup among President Obama’s senior staff, CNN has learned that White House Counsel Greg Craig is being pushed out in favor of veteran Democratic lawyer Bob Bauer because of a dispute over the struggle to close the U.S. Military prison at Guantanamo.
A senior administration official and a senior Democratic source confirmed the move will be officially announced by the White House in coming days. The sources said it could be announced as early as Friday in Washington while the President will be in Japan starting a four-nation tour of Asia, which would make it likely the staff change will be overshadowed by other events.
Reached late Thursday evening by telephone for reaction, Craig told CNN, “I’m not going to comment” before hanging up.
Bauer is the husband of outgoing White House Communications Director Anita Dunn, who recently led a so-called “war” on Fox News. Dunn earlier this week announced she is leaving her White House post, a long-anticipated move that was not connected to the media battle.
Democratic officials said Craig was ousted because of frustration among senior White House aides over his handling of the plans to close the prison at Guantanamo. As the White House’s top lawyer, Craig was pivotal in advising the President it was wise to sign an executive order during his first week in office promising to shut the prison by the end of January 2010.
In a politically embarrassing move that has frustrated some of the President’s liberal supporters, White House aides have since backed off that deadline, citing complex legal issues surrounding what to do with the approximately 200 terror suspects still detained at Guantanamo. Some administration officials privately believe Craig should have better anticipated the pitfalls, though Craig supporters note he was not the only top official who supported the ironclad executive order and they believe he is being made a scapegoat.
One of the Democratic officials who spoke to CNN acknowledged Craig’s tenure had been a “little choppy” but downplayed the exit as part of the normal turnover in any administration after nearly one year in office.
I’ll remind you again of Bauer’s handiwork during the 2008 campaign:
*It was Bauer who lobbied the Justice Department unsuccessfully last fall to pursue a criminal probe of American Issues Project (AIP), an independent group that sought to run an ad spotlighting Obama’s ties to Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers.
*It was Bauer who attempted to sic the DOJ on GOP donor Harold Simmons and sought his prosecution for funding the ad.
*It was Bauer who tried to bully television stations across the country to compel them to pull the spot. All on Barack Obama’s behalf.
Bauer’s specialty is stifling dissent. He’s married to the woman Obama entrusted to lead the campaign to de-legitimize critics in the media.
Girding loins? You betcha.
It’s clear Obama wants an intimate ally who will put hardball politics ahead of policy and the law. The Gitmo excuse is just that — an excuse. And this from left-leaning Marc Ambinder confirms the obvious:
Sources in government say that White House Counsel Gregory Craig has decided to resign, and that the president’s personal lawyer, Robert Bauer, will take his place. A formal announcement is slated next week, though word might drop tomorrow. The official changeover won’t happen until next year.
The move has been in the works for more than a month, the decision to move on was mutual, and the announcement was delayed in order to allow a spate of negative press stories about Craig to attenuate. The news was first reported by Chuck Todd of NBC News.
He is highly regarded by his colleagues for having a top-flight legal and tactical mind. He is well-liked and friendly. And he is a veteran of the White House, having served as chief counsel to the President during impeachment. He spent decades in private practice, had five years experience as chief national security counsel to Ted Kennedy and served on Madeleine Albright’s policy planning staff at the State Department.
Presiding over the largest White House counsel’s office in recent memory, he has, according to even his allies, not displayed the best of managerial skills. Even a job like the counsel becomes an inherently political position, and requires its occupant to have a broad understanding of how to engage stakeholders across the government. Mr. Craig was seen by some of his detractors as too inwardly focused…
…By his own admission, Bauer is not an expert on national security law, or on trade or tax law, or on administrative law — but he will certainly rely on able deputies. And he’ll get to choose them. Cassandra Butts, one of Craig’s chief assistants, is departing for a position at the Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Bauer is politically savvy, having worked closely with most of the leading Democrats on Capitol Hill. He is expected to bring a deft touch to the counsel’s office.
Not exactly how I’d describe the “touch” left by brass knuckles.