Ed Siskel moved from Chicago to Washington final weekend to start his new function as White Home counsel. He had one whole day — final Monday — to settle into his workplace, in a coveted nook on the second ground of the West Wing.
By Mr. Siskel’s second day on the job, high congressional Republicans stated they might open an impeachment inquiry into President Biden, plunging Mr. Biden into one of many extra dramatic conditions a president — and the particular person holding the job of counsel to the president — can face.
In a press release, Mr. Biden praised Mr. Siskel as a seasoned lawyer who may “hit the bottom working as a key chief on my group” to advise on every part from coverage litigation to judicial nominations. Nonetheless, it was an unusually busy week — and one targeted squarely on impeachment — even by Washington’s frenetic requirements.
A veteran of the Obama White Home, the place he countered Republican efforts within the Benghazi and Solyndra investigations, Mr. Siskel, 51, will assist steer Mr. Biden by way of a political maelstrom as an ultraconservative bloc of Republicans pushes for impeachment.
The White Home, which has slowly been constructing out a defensive equipment for over a 12 months, has dismissed the trouble as little greater than a bad-faith political stunt. Republicans have uncovered no proof that connects Mr. Biden to the type of monetary wrongdoing or corruption they are saying he and his household have dedicated.
However Republicans are promising to dig by way of the household’s funds and correspondence. And the choices that Mr. Biden makes — based mostly on the enter of Mr. Siskel, his group of legal professionals and his private lawyer — may have penalties not only for the presidency but additionally for Mr. Biden’s 2024 marketing campaign.
A nephew of the movie critic Gene Siskel, Mr. Siskel grew up on the North Shore of Chicago and graduated from the University of Chicago Law School. (Amongst his academics was former President Barack Obama, who taught constitutional regulation.) Later, Mr. Siskel clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens.
He additionally labored for Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the U.S. lawyer in Chicago. There, he dealt with the high-profile fraud and obstruction-of-justice case of the Canadian-born newspaper baron Conrad Black, who was convicted of fraud in 2007.
“He’s obtained nice judgment,” Mr. Fitzgerald stated in an interview. “He has integrity. However I feel he additionally has the background and expertise the place he’s been by way of the drill of creating positive folks keep on the proper aspect of the road between politics and coverage.”
Mr. Fitzgerald stated Mr. Siskel was “comparatively soft-spoken” and a gifted author, expertise that he anticipated would serve him properly when responding to requests from Republicans.
A number of of Mr. Siskel’s allies stated he had a seasoned understanding of the place established authorized precedents are with congressional investigations focusing on the White Home — a sign, they stated, that Republicans might need to clear a excessive bar to evaluate any of the knowledge they could in the end determine to hunt from the president.
Mr. Siskel is not any stranger to partisan fights, however he’s additionally recognized for leveling together with his shoppers, folks near him say. He most lately labored as a chief authorized officer for Grosvenor Holdings, a Chicago-based funding agency. On the White Home, he’ll lead a crew of over 40 legal professionals who most lately served beneath Stuart Delery, who introduced final month that he was leaving the put up.
Mr. Siskel, who didn’t reply to a request for remark, was a White Home lawyer targeted on congressional oversight issues throughout the Obama administration. He earned a status as a crisis manager when he helped lead the administration’s effort to counter Republican investigations into the Benghazi terrorist assault, a prolonged case that uncovered no new proof towards its essential goal, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Siskel was deputy White Home counsel when he left for private practice at the law firm WilmerHale, the place he was recruited to work for Rahm Emanuel, then the mayor of Chicago. Below Mr. Emanuel, Mr. Siskel served as company counsel, overseeing dozens of legal professionals and preventing authorized claims towards town. Mr. Emanuel praised Mr. Siskel as having a pointy understanding of the politics surrounding authorized choices.
“Plenty of legal professionals are nice legal professionals with zero peripheral imaginative and prescient into public opinion,” Mr. Emanuel, now the U.S. ambassador to Japan, stated in an interview. Mr. Siskel, he stated, “has a eager authorized thoughts, seasoned, with a political appreciation. And that’s a rarity.”
Mr. Emanuel, the White Home chief of workers beneath Mr. Obama, added, “In case you’re a mayor or chief of workers within the White Home, that’s actually appreciated.”
Jamie S. Gorelick, who served as deputy lawyer common throughout the Clinton administration and employed Mr. Siskel at WilmerHale, stated Mr. Siskel had “good ballast” — essential for working in a extremely charged atmosphere.
“You’ll be able to’t get within the water and flap round,” she stated.
“I feel he’s going to be very staunch in defending the president and the White Home in a peaceful and well mannered approach,” Ms. Gorelick stated, “however he won’t be pushed round.”