[cnn-photo-caption image= http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/images/10/10/art.bocraig1009.gi.jpg caption="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.