WASHINGTON – The White House has expanded its legal team to handle the fights it is having with the new Democratic Congress.
Since becoming President Bush's new lawyer in February, Fred Fielding has created five new positions in the White House counsel's office, expanding the staff to 22 lawyers, the White House said on Friday. Fielding also has filled a handful of empty desks in his office.
Fielding is strengthening the staff to deal with an avalanche of requests the White House is getting from lawmakers investigating the flap over the firings of U.S. attorneys, missing e-mails, prewar intelligence and other matters.
Democrats, who are ramping up their legal staffs on Capitol Hill too, have threatened to issue subpoenas if the White House doesn't produce certain information.
"While we believe some requests are legitimate, we believe others are unfortunate fishing expeditions," White House spokeswoman Emily Lawrimore said of the requests.
She said the new lawyers bring with them an array of experience — from the Supreme Court to Capitol Hill, the private sector to the military. "Our goal is to simply have the right people in place to adequately address issues that come our way," she said.
Fielding's new deputy counsel is J. Michael Farren, corporate vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary at Xerox Corp. He replaces Bill Kelley, who has been scheduled to return to his position at Notre Dame University's law school at the end of the month.
Before Xerox, Farren was under secretary for international trade at the Commerce Department. Earlier, he was deputy campaign manager for the Bush-Quayle Re-election Committee and deputy director of former President George H.W. Bush's transition team.
William Burck was plucked from the Justice Department to be deputy assistant to the president and special counsel to Bush. Burck recently was counselor to the assistant attorney general for the criminal division at Justice.
Before that, he was deputy assistant to the president and deputy staff secretary at the White House. Burck, a former clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy, also was an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Emmet Flood, most recently a partner at Williams & Connolly in Washington, also was named special counsel to the president. He has been a law clerk to Justice Antonin Scalia and Judge Ralph K. Winter Jr. of the 2nd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
Fielding recruited three new associate counsels at the White House from Wiley, Rein & Fielding, the law firm he left to take the White House job:
—Amy F. Dunathan, former clerk for U.S. District Judge Ricardo Urbina and former senior Republican counsel at the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs.
—Al Lambert, former clerk for Laurence H. Silberman, a U.S. Court of Appeals judge for the District of Columbia Circuit.
—Kate Todd, former law clerk for Justice Clarence Thomas and Judge J. Michael Luttig of the 4th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
The other lawyers named as associate counsels are:
—Scott Coffina, a partner at Montgomery McCracken Walker & Rhoads in Philadelphia, former assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and an associate at Miller Alfano & Raspanti in Philadelphia.
—Francis Q. Hoang, former associate at Williams & Connolly in Washington, law clerk to Judge Thomas B. Griffith on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and deputy chief of police and SWAT commander at Fort Leavenworth, Kan.
—Michael Purpura, senior counsel to the deputy attorney general at the Justice Department, former assistant U.S. attorney for the District of Hawaii and assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
APTV 06-08-07 1200EDT