Bush Picks Fred F. Fielding as New White House Counsel

Fred Fielding, a veteran Washington lawyer who served presidents Nixon and Reagan, is returning to the White House to be President Bush's counsel.

"Fred is one of the most well respected and accomplished lawyers in our nation, and I look forward to benefiting from his wise counsel," Bush said Tuesday.

Fielding will become Bush's top White House lawyer just as Democrats, once again the majority party in Congress, plan to take a more critical look at the administration. From the Iraq war to environmental policy and secret surveillance, the Democrats who now control both the House and Senate are armed with subpoena power and ready to summon panels of witnesses.

Fielding will replace Harriet Miers, Bush's failed Supreme Court nominee and longtime adviser. She submitted her resignation Thursday after six years in the White House, and it will take effect Jan. 31.

Fielding served as President Reagan's counsel from 1981 to 1986, where one of his assistants was John Roberts, now the chief justice of the Supreme Court. Under President Nixon, Fielding served as deputy White House counsel from 1972 to 1974 and associate counsel from 1970 to 1972.

More recently, he served on the bipartisan panel that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Fielding is a partner at the firm of Wiley, Rein and Fielding.

He is known as an expert in business litigation and government relations law, representing corporations in high profile regulatory investigations by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Justice Department and others.

"As soon as I heard they were looking for someone with a great investigation background, Fred Fielding was the only one I thought of," said Sheila Tate, a public relations executive who worked in the Reagan administration.

Ron Kaufman, who served in the administrations of Reagan and Bush's father, said he was not surprised that Fielding would take the job.

"Guys like him can't say no to a president," Kaufman said.

The Committee for Justice, a conservative judicial organization, praised Bush for picking a lawyer who has the "gravitas and determination" to stand up to opposition tactics by Democrats.