October 10th, 2009
09:55 PM ET
5 years ago

'I have no plans to leave,' top Obama lawyer says

White House counsel Greg Craig, shown here with the president on Inauguration Day, says he has 'no plans to leave whatsoever.'
White House counsel Greg Craig, shown here with the president on Inauguration Day, says he has 'no plans to leave whatsoever.'

WASHINGTON (CNN) – White House Counsel Greg Craig is trying to put to rest rumors that his time as the president’s top in-house lawyer is coming to an untimely end, according to a report by the National Law Journal.

"'I have no plans to leave whatsoever,'" Craig reportedly told the legal publication. "'The rumors that I'm about to leave are false. The reports that I'm about to leave are wrong. I have no plans to leave.'"

As the Obama administration has begun to send signals that it may not meet its own one-year deadline for closing the U.S. detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, a deadline that that the new administration set for itself with much fanfare on President Obama’s first full day in office, Craig has found himself increasingly subject to rumors that he is headed out of the White House.

In the interview with the National Law Journal, Craig denied a September 25 report by the Washington Post that he had played a leading role in developing the administration’s initial plan to close the controversial facility by late January 2010.

To address the setbacks it encountered in closing the facility, “the administration has shifted its leadership team on the issue,” the Post’s September 25 report said. “White House Counsel Gregory B. Craig, who initially guided the effort to close the prison and who was an advocate of setting the deadline, is no longer in charge of the project,” the Post reported, citing two senior Obama administration officials.

But Craig says the Post’s report is inaccurate.

I was "'certainly not the point man on Guantanamo,'" Craig reportedly told the National Law Journal. "'The notion that I have been replaced, for a job that I was never assigned, that was just not true,'" Craig also reportedly said.

Quite the contrary, Craig described his relationship with Obama as “'excellent,'” according to the National Law Journal.

Craig told the publication that he has direct access to the president. Obama “'makes that absolutely clear: that whenever I need to talk to him, I can just walk in [to the Oval Office] and talk to him on-one-one,'" Craig reportedly said.

Asked about Craig’s involvement in the administration’s handling of the Guantanamo facility, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said on September 28 that Craig was one of a number of people in the administration working on the project and that Craig had not been stripped of any of his responsibilities in that regard. Asked about Craig again on October 6, Gibbs said “Craig is in the President's office every day as part of a small group of senior advisers that meet with him daily.” Asked specifically about Obama’s confidence in Craig, Gibbs said last Tuesday that he had already discussed the issue with reporters on September 28 and Gibbs added “I think we're making progress on ensuring that once and for all Guantanamo Bay is closed.”

Craig is a longtime Washington fixture in Democratic circles having worked for a number of prominent Democrats included former President Bill Clinton and the late Sen. Edward Kennedy.

soundoff (73 Responses)
  1. Hey Lawyer, handle this matter

    Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution: "No Title of Nobility shall be granted by the United States: And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."

    The NPP Committee is 5 members of the Norwegian Parliament. That means that the title comes from the King of Norway. This matter needs to go to the Congress for a vote.

    October 10, 2009 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  2. Simmy

    CNN's wannabes will stop at nothing to place the White House in a negative light......Ed Henry is questioning the validity of the president's Nobel Peace Prize Award because it won't create jobs – How stupid and trivial.......Now there's a rumor about Craig leaving......Get a life, why don't you? Your guy and gal didn't qualify, President Obama is here to stay......It's still a bitter pill, but you lost.....grow up and move out of smallville USA......

    October 10, 2009 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  3. John,Black Hills/SD

    The sooner we empty Guantanamo detention facility the better, it's the spoiled fuzzy mayonnaise left overs from the Bush era.

    October 10, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  4. Francis Marion

    We did not become a sovereign nation to allow the wing nuts to destroy it. This terrorism from within must cease.

    October 10, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  5. John in Iowa

    Slight problem with your comment "Hey Lawyer, handle this matter"

    and that is...
    "Although appointed by the Norwegian Parliament (Stortinget), they are independent and answer to no legislative authority. Members of the Norwegian government are not permitted to sit on the Committee"

    Plus the King has nothing to do with who gets the prize either.

    October 10, 2009 04:27 pm at 4:27 pm |
  6. Beverly in NC

    The only people who should be resigning in shame are the Senate Republicans who preach "values" and then have adulterous affairs. Those who have led personal attacks on President Obama having nothing to do with policy. Those who gone out into their states and made up outrageous lies about the excellent healthcare plan ready to pass into law, have promoted hate-spewing, gun-toting "tea parties" that promote racism and violence towards our President.

    Resignation is for those do wrong and commit acts not befitting their position. That pretty much sums up the obstructionist Republicans in the Senate. They should resign now so they won't waste their money on a definite loss for re-election next year. We don't vote for hate-filled, unpatriotic, unAmerican Republicans who cheer for our failure.

    October 10, 2009 04:29 pm at 4:29 pm |
  7. Jean 2

    CNN seems to dig for negative news as if they were digging for gold.

    WHY???????????

    October 10, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  8. Keith

    If Section 9 of Article I of the constitution were applied as liberally as it's suggested it should be in the previous comments, then that means every time some random leader gave Bush a box of cigars or something, it would have to go up to a vote. I don't think this is quite the way that section was meant to be interpreted.

    And by the way this article had nothing to do with that. Would you people give it a rest already, it's not like Obama asked for the thing.

    October 10, 2009 04:42 pm at 4:42 pm |
  9. rorsharch

    Two words... Van Jones...
    It amazes me that the same people who scrutinized everything by the previous administration are now dumbfounded that other people want to scrutinize this administration.... weird.... do you guys remember how you used to say that "dissent is patriotic"? Not so much anymore, hypocrites.

    October 10, 2009 04:46 pm at 4:46 pm |
  10. mabel floyd

    i voted for pres obama to make the best decisions. he has the info i do not have and i trust him to decide and lead. i resent the people who always criiticize esp the people who know nothing and blather on as if they were knowable. the repubs would be against obama if he walked the water and declare the only reason he walked the water is that he was a bad swimmer.
    people like rush "dumbaugh" and glen beck are masterful as they play the pied piper to the uninformed , the emotionally weak , and the seekers of power. it is a game to them and they are amoral, yet puffed up with pseudo. righteousness .

    October 10, 2009 04:50 pm at 4:50 pm |
  11. Claudia - Eugene, Oregon

    Jean2, I so agree with you – about CNN seeking negative news or even casting positive news in a negative light. I especially think that Anderson Cooper does this – and it's happening more and more often. Would Walter Cronkite do this??

    October 10, 2009 04:57 pm at 4:57 pm |
  12. KK

    I have noticed a change in CNN lately and not for the better. It seems that you are all going the Lou Dobbs way. I have even noticed this in Wolf Blitzer lately-sad. Give us the news that is honest and important to the American people not little snitz here and there of "I believe" kind of stuff, we want true facts when you report it.

    October 10, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  13. George Washington

    CNN doesn't know how to report news, so they like to make news

    October 10, 2009 05:06 pm at 5:06 pm |
  14. Ain't life strange?

    Someone here talks about dissent? It's one thing to question administration policies, it's another to down right fabricate lies. I keep hearing people complain, " Obama promised to close Gitmo but it's still open." Well, ill informed critics, it's because the deadline to do so is Jan. 2010!. Come on already. Stop comparing this administration to the last one. I mean really; death panels, indoctrination of school children, terrorist, communist, marxist, socialist (I didn't know one could be all of those 'ists' at the same time! ) destroyer of our great country. I suppose you think you know more then the people who declared him the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize. I know; he didn't desrve that either. Let me pull an Alan Grayson on ya..." If Obama brought about world peace, the conservatives would accuse him of destroying the defense industry." Keep you head in the sand, lunatics. Keep the faith in the far right and you'll be completely surprised what you get from those clowns!

    October 10, 2009 05:09 pm at 5:09 pm |
  15. John in Iowa

    rorsharch –
    I remember how the last administration tried to claim that to criticize the government was unpatriotic and people that did were not real americans......... "Not so much anymore, hypocrites."

    October 10, 2009 05:10 pm at 5:10 pm |
  16. Not Obama fan

    This is just politics. Make it look like the guy is reponsible and is being disciplined. The real story is now the Obama camp is getting the word out that Guantanamo may not close soon. And right after he was awarded the Nobel.

    October 10, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  17. Proud member of "Global Zero:

    It is way over time to close the dentention/torture center. Congress needs to get out of the way....the way of EVERYTHING.

    and hey lawyer....you need to get a life. We as Americans should be very proud of our President. I know I am as well as millions of Americans and Billions around the world.

    October 10, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  18. Pragmatic

    Do you guys – the GOP – remember saying dissent is "unpatriotic and treason?" No so much anymore, hypocrites!

    as for a title of nobility ... its an award – named after Alfred Nobel – an honor: does not need congressional approval .... how absurd and getting worse!

    We all say all the nothing done for the last 8 years and the GOP wants to "stay the course" forever – no change – no progress – "jsut say no" - so sad!

    October 10, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  19. Mickey, NY

    [rorsharch October 10th, 2009 4:46 pm ET

    Two words… Van Jones…
    It amazes me that the same people who scrutinized everything by the previous administration are now dumbfounded that other people want to scrutinize this administration…. weird…. do you guys remember how you used to say that "dissent is patriotic"? Not so much anymore, hypocrites.]

    The reason why Bush was scrutinized is because he is a CRIMINAL. The likes of you scrutinize Obama out of bigotry and hatred.

    That's a big difference, hypocrite.

    October 10, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. therealmarie

    CNN advances any and all rumors put forth by the Right Wing Mullahs. What a waste of a 'so called' News station.

    October 10, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  21. Peter (s)

    Cnn is gradually turning into tabloids!!, Rumor mongering!!! he said ! she said!! is the current news!

    October 10, 2009 05:37 pm at 5:37 pm |
  22. Patriot

    Hey "rorsharch" -

    There's a difference between dissent and spewing fear, lies, hatred, and division, which the Repubs have been doing since last fall.

    If Limbaugh, Beck, Hannity, and the Repubs who kiss their butts actually had anything thoughtful to say, maybe people would be willing to listen.. But all they do is obstruct, oppose, ridicule, and engage in smear tactics

    Where's a workable GOP health reform plan? Where's a GOP strategy on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, other than to keep sending troops despite the situation on the ground? Where's the GOP plan to put people back to work, other than the failed "trickle down economics?"

    All the Repubs do is whine and complain, but they have nothing constructive to offer. No wonder only 20% of Americans are willing to admit they are Republicans, and I'm sure that percentage will continue to dwindle.

    October 10, 2009 05:44 pm at 5:44 pm |
  23. Victim of Liberal stupidity

    Lawyers writing laws for lawyers to interpret with self regulating lawyers to oversee, anyone else see the result of what lawyers have done to any common sense approach to Government in our once Great Nation? Why is everyone in the House, Senate and Whitehouse so afraid of Tort Law Reform? Would you shoot your cash cow?

    October 10, 2009 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  24. Nobody Asked Larry But...

    Everyone seems to forget that Congress, yes, the Democrat controlled Congress, failed to pass authorization to adequately fund the monies necessary to rapidly close Gitmo. That, plus no one wants a buiild a new federal prison "in my back yard."

    October 10, 2009 06:05 pm at 6:05 pm |
  25. Chloe in Chatsworth, CA

    When the President expedites a matter the Gopers complain he isn't giving everyone a chance to weigh in. When he takes the time to thoroughly vet every viewpoint in matters of grave importance to the nation, like Bush's left-over train wrecks Gitmo and the Iraq and Afghan wars, they complain that he isn't following through on his promises quickly enough. When he makes a sincere effort to bring home one of the world's most prestigious events he's jeered, and if he had succeeded does anyone believe they wouldn't have still jeered? And when the leader of our country is honored with the world's most prestigious award they heap ridicule and abuse on him.

    The biggest problem with one of our two major political parties being led by a right-wing talk radio host isn't that he relies on sensationalism to make a (very good) living, it's that he wasn't elected.

    October 10, 2009 06:06 pm at 6:06 pm |
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