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 new workplace, situated in a coveted nook on the second ground of the West Wing.
By Mr. Siskel’s second day on the job, prime congressional Republicans mentioned 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 an announcement, Mr. Biden praised Mr. Siskel as a seasoned lawyer who might “hit the bottom operating as a key chief on my group” to advise on all the pieces from coverage litigation to judicial nominations. Nonetheless, it was an unusually busy week — and one targeted squarely on impeachment — even by the frenetic requirements of Washington.
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.
Mr. Biden’s White Home, which has slowly been constructing out a defensive equipment for greater than 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 form of monetary wrongdoing or corruption they are saying he and his relations have dedicated.
However Republicans are promising to dig by way of the Biden household’s funds and correspondence. And the choices that Mr. Biden makes — primarily based on the enter of Mr. Siskel, his group of attorneys and his private lawyer — may have penalties not only for the presidency however 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 College of Chicago Regulation Faculty. (Amongst his academics was former President Barack Obama, who taught constitutional legislation.) Later, Mr. Siskel clerked for John Paul Stevens, the longtime Supreme Court docket justice.
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 acquired nice judgment,” Mr. Fitzgerald mentioned in an interview. “He has integrity. However I believe he additionally has the background and expertise the place he’s been by way of the drill of constructing positive individuals keep on the precise facet of the road between politics and coverage.”
Mr. Fitzgerald mentioned 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 mentioned he had a seasoned understanding of the place established authorized precedents are with congressional investigations focusing on the White Home — a sign, they mentioned, that Republicans could need to clear a excessive bar to assessment any of the data they could finally determine to hunt from the president.
Mr. Siskel isn’t any stranger to partisan fights, however he’s additionally recognized for leveling along with his shoppers, individuals near him say. He most not too long ago 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 attorneys who most not too long ago served beneath Stuart Delery, who introduced final month that he was leaving the publish.
Mr. Siskel, who didn’t reply to a request for remark, was a White Home lawyer targeted on congressional oversight points throughout the Obama administration. He earned a repute as a disaster supervisor 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 most important goal, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
Mr. Siskel was serving as deputy White Home counsel when he left for personal apply on the legislation agency WilmerHale, the place he was recruited to work for Rahm Emanuel, then the mayor of Chicago. Underneath Mr. Emanuel, Mr. Siskel served as company counsel, overseeing dozens of attorneys and preventing authorized claims towards town. Mr. Emanuel praised Mr. Siskel as having a pointy understanding of the politics surrounding authorized selections.
“Loads of attorneys are nice attorneys with zero peripheral imaginative and prescient into public opinion,” Mr. Emanuel, now the U.S. ambassador to Japan, mentioned in an interview. Mr. Siskel, he mentioned, “has a eager authorized thoughts, seasoned, with a political appreciation. And that’s a rarity.”
Mr. Emanuel, who served as 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 normal throughout the Clinton administration and employed Mr. Siskel at WilmerHale, mentioned Mr. Siskel had “good ballast” — crucial for working in a extremely charged surroundings.
“You possibly can’t get within the water and flap round,” she mentioned.
“I believe he’s going to be very staunch in defending the president and the White Home in a relaxed and well mannered approach,” Ms. Gorelick mentioned, “however he is not going to be pushed round.”