The election is days away, and polls indicate that the race between President Barack Obama and Republican Gov. Mitt Romney is neck and neck. If Obama wins re-election, current Attorney General Eric Holder is likely to stay on for a while, at least.
But a Romney administration would mean a change of the nation’s top law enforcement officer.
Reuters’ David Ingram took a look at some potential candidates for AG (the list is heavy with ex-DOJ officials, but our bet would be on Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell.)
But first, a quick digression: There is no mention of former Deputy Attorney General James Comey, whose name often tops lists for AG and FBI director.
Comey, who until recently was a lawyer for investment firm Bridgewater Associates, appears to have put his bet on Romney, donating $5,000 to the GOP presidential hopeful this election cycle, according to federal records. But after standing up to the George W. Bush White House over a surveillance program he believed to be illegal, Comey’s subsequent critical comments of the Bush-era anti-terrorism program may have won him few GOP friends.
In any event, here’s the Reuters list:
- Michael Chertoff, head of the Chertoff Group, a risk management and security consulting firm.Chertoff is one of the oldest of the old hands. He served as the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security under President George W. Bush; as a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit; head of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division; and as New Jersey U.S. Attorney. In the 1990s, he was the top Republican lawyer for the special Senate Whitewater Committee that investigated Bill and Hillary Clinton’s finances, led by Sen. Al D’Amato (R-N.Y.).
Clement, who was George W. Bush’s Solicitor General from 2005 to 2008, has since made a name for himself as a top lawyer for hot-button GOP causes. He argued the case against Obama’s Affordable Care Act before the Supreme Court; is working for the House of Representatives to defend the Defense of Marriage Act that defines federal marriage as between a man and a woman; and signed up to help South Carolina defend a voter ID law the DOJ had challenged as potentially discriminatory. Clement co-founded the law firm Bancroft PLLC with former Assistant Attorney General Viet Dinh after he quit his then-law firm, King & Spalding LLP, in protest of its decision against representing the House in its DOMA lawsuit. Clement is also a former chief counsel of the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on the Constitution, federalism and property rights.
Paul Clement, partner at
- Mark Filip, partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP
Before joining Kirkland, Filip served in the No. 2 post at the Justice Department as the Deputy Attorney General, securing Senate confirmation in March 2008. He also served as Acting Attorney General for the Obama administration while Holder awaited confirmation in the Senate. Before becoming DAG, Filip was a judge in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois. He also served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Chicago from 1995 to 1999.
- David Leitch, general counsel at Ford Motor Co.Leitch served as the White House Deputy Counsel under President George W. Bush. Before that appointment, he worked as chief counsel for the Federal Aviation Administration from 2001 to 2002. He also has high-level experience in the Justice Department as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel.
J. Michael Luttig, general counsel at Boeing Co.
As a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit for 15 years, Luttig became known as a “feeder” of laws clerks to the Supreme Court, mostly to Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas. Before joining the bench, he served as an Assistant Attorney General and worked as a counselor to the attorney general. He also, from 1981 to 1982, served as assistant counsel in the Office of White House Counsel.
- Peter Keisler, partner at Sidley Austin LLPKeisler served as Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General under President George W. Bush. He also worked as the Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division. He served as Acting Attorney General until Michael Mukasey won confirmation from the Senate. He is also a co-founder of the Federalist Society, a conservative legal group.
- Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)
Kyl, a reliable conservative on issues from abortion to national security, is retiring from the Senate this year after serving three terms. He also served in the House of Representatives for eight years. As a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, he has helped write legislation including provisions of the Patriot Act and the Military Commissions Act. Before joining the House, Kyl worked as a lawyer at Jennings, Strouss & Salmon in Phoenix, Ariz.
McDonnell was elected governor in 2010 after serving from 1993 to 2006 in the Virginia House of Delegates. As governor he has steered carefully between his core supporters in the Christian Evangelical movement and more moderate Virginians. He is also a former lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army.McDonnell served as Attorney General for the state from 2006 to 2009. His name was floated as a potential Romney vice presidential pick, but controversy over a bill he signed requiring mandatory vaginal ultrasounds for women undergoing abortions may have worked against him. McDonnell later diluted the mandatory ultrasound bill after it became a national news story.
Bob McDonnell, Governor of Virginia
- George Terwilliger, partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP
Terwilliger served as Deputy Attorney General and Acting Attorney General under President George H.W. Bush. He recently joined Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP from White & Case LLP. He served as the Vermont U.S. Attorney from 1986 to 1990. He also lead the team represented George W. Bush in the 2000 Florida election recount case and works with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to promote business interests in legal reform.
- Larry Thompson, general counsel at PepsiCo Inc.
Thompson served as Deputy Attorney General under President George W. Bush from 2001 to 2003. He also worked as the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia from 1982 to 1986. Before rejoining PepsiCo, he worked as a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.