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  • Chuck Colson (1931 - 2012)
    Charles Wendell "Chuck" Colson (October 16, 1931 – April 21, 2012) was an Evangelical Christian leader who founded Prison Fellowship, Prison Fellowship International, and BreakPoint. He served as S...
  • Clark Clifford, U.S. Secretary of Defense (1906 - 1998)
    Clark McAdams Clifford (December 25, 1906 – October 10, 1998) was an American lawyer who served United States Presidents Harry S. Truman, John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter, serving ...
  • Samuel Irving Rosenman (1896 - 1973)
    Samuel Irving Rosenman (1896–1973) was a U.S. lawyer, judge, Democratic political figure, and presidential speechwriter. He was also the first official White House Counsel -- then called Special Coun...
  • Charles S. Murphy (1909 - 1983)
    Charles S. Murphy (August 20, 1909 – August 28, 1983) was an American attorney who served as the White House Counsel to President Harry S. Truman from 1950 to 1953. Murphy also served as Chairman o...
  • Bernard M. Shanley (1903 - 1992)
    Bernard Michael Shanley (August 4, 1903 – February 25, 1992) was best known for his work with U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower. He served under President Eisenhower as Deputy White House Chief of ...

The White House Counsel is a staff appointee of the President of the United States whose role is to advise the President on all legal issues concerning the President and his Administration. The current White House Counsel is Don McGahn.


The Office of Counsel to the President was created in 1943, and is responsible for advising on all legal aspects of policy questions, legal issues arising in connection with the President's decision to sign or veto legislation, ethical questions, financial disclosures, and conflicts of interest during employment and post employment. The Counsel's Office also helps define the line between official and political activities, oversees executive appointments and judicial selection, handles Presidential pardons, reviews legislation and Presidential statements, and handles lawsuits against the President in his role as President, as well as serving as the White House contact for the Department of Justice.


Although the White House Counsel offers legal advice to the President, the Counsel does so in the President's official capacity, and does not serve as the President's personal attorney. Therefore, controversy has emerged over the scope of the attorney–client privilege between the Counsel and the President, namely with John Dean of Watergate notoriety. It is clear, however, that the privilege does not apply in strictly personal matters. It also does not apply to legislative proceedings by the U.S. Congress against the President due to allegations of misconduct while in office, such as formal censures or impeachment proceedings. In those situations the President relies on a personal attorney if he desires confidential legal advice. The office is also distinct from the judiciary, and from others who are not appointed to positions, but nominated by the President, and confirmed by the Senate. These would be foremost the Attorney General of the United States, and his or her principal deputy and other assistants, who are nominated by the President to oversee the United States Department of Justice, or the Solicitor General of the United States and his or her staff (he or she is the third-ranking official in the Justice Department), who argue cases before the U.S. Supreme Court (and in lower federal courts) for the Justice Department when it is a party to the case.

List of White House Counsels