President Joe Biden faces investigations on multiple fronts, with House Republicans poised to escalate their inquiries and Hunter Biden seemingly on the cusp of an indictment.
It has been the White House’s policy to defer most comments on investigations of the Bidens or former President Donald Trump to the Justice Department or, where appropriate, the White House counsel’s office.
Bob Bauer is the president’s personal attorney.
The White House counsel’s office has taken the lead in responding to House Republican investigations, with its spokesman Ian Sams much more of an attack dog in this area than press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre. Soon the office under Siskel’s leadership will assume a large role in the impeachment war room if an inquiry does take shape on Capitol Hill.
But Siskel arrives on the job with experience from when Biden was vice president, eventually rising to deputy counsel under former President Barack Obama.
“That’s really going to come in handy once [House Speaker] Kevin McCarthy and [House Oversight Committee Chairman] Jim Comer get going,” a Democratic strategist said.
“Ed Siskel’s many years of experience in public service and a career defending the rule of law make him the perfect choice to serve as my next White House Counsel,” Biden said in a statement announcing the hire, later adding, “His experience will let him hit the ground running as a key leader on my team as we continue making progress for the American people every day.”
Siskel was involved in the White House response to two of the biggest scandals of the Obama years: the collapse of Solyndra and the attack on the U.S. Consulate in Benghazi. Both were major focuses of House Republican investigators, as Americans died in Benghazi and Solyndra became a symbol of the intersection between Obama’s green jobs agenda and crony capitalism.
As corporation counsel under then-Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Siskel frequently got into legal battles with the Trump administration, especially on immigration enforcement in the city. Chicago sued the administration as Trump sought to crack down on sanctuary cities.
“He’s got precisely the right temperament for this kind of role. He’s great under pressure. Really calm and very understated, but also tough as nails,” former White House counsel and Siskel’s old boss Kathy Ruemmler told CNN. “He’s the guy who you want in the foxhole with you.”
Born in 1972, the year Biden was first elected to the Senate from Delaware, Siskel received his bachelor’s degree from Wesleyan University and graduated from the University of Chicago’s law school. His uncle was the prominent film critic Gene Siskel of Siskel and Ebert fame.
Siskel is also a former federal prosecutor. He returned to the White House from Democratic megadonor Michael Sacks’s Grosvenor Holdings LLC, where Siskel was chief counsel. He replaced Stuart Delery as Biden’s top White House lawyer.
The White House counsel additionally plays a key role in the judicial nomination process, as Biden would like opportunities to shrink the conservative majority on the Supreme Court that has ruled against him in several high-profile cases. Biden has succeeded in getting a number of his lower court nominees confirmed as well as Supreme Court Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson despite a slim Senate majority.
But it’s the fights with House Republicans that are likely to take center stage over the next year, as Biden gears up for a reelection fight.
The White House believes any impeachment attempt will likely backfire on Republicans ahead of 2024, which will come amid a spending fight that could trigger a government shutdown. Biden’s team on Thursday circulated a list of GOP impeachment skeptics, which included some conservatives currently serving in Congress.
Individual lawmakers such as Reps. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) and Lauren Boebert (R-CO) have already introduced their own impeachment resolutions, but McCarthy has indicated any action would come through a process involving the whole House.
“If we move forward with an impeachment inquiry, it would occur through a vote on the floor of the People’s House and not through a declaration by one person,” McCarthy told Breitbart.
Whatever the politics, Siskel would be in the middle of an election-year impeachment fight.
It would be quite a welcome back to the White House.