Emanuel worried about the political repercussions of a first-term young
Democratic president who would appear to be thumbing the eyes of the
national security establishment. Craig won the round.
Obama retains an enormous affection for Craig, who bucked the
Democratic establishment in the primary, and the president is, in some
ways, a sucker for arguments that draw back to the reasons why he
decided to run for office in the first place. Craig is an
But the story doesn't end there. Emanuel and Craig worked together
quite well on other projects. And Craig even borrowed a page from
Emanuel's own handbook for resisting pressure from leaks that he would resign: Craig decided to
try and wait it out, just as Emanuel did, more successfully, in the Clinton White House after the 1994 midterm elections.
As early as the beginning of the
summer, it was clear to the President that the counsel's office was
poorly managed. Craig had focused intently on several
issues close to his heart, like the closing of the Guantanamo Bay
detention facility, and did not bring his authority to bear in others,
like presidential personnel nominations, cross-executive branch ethics
enforcement and congressional relations.
staff -- and the president -- kept finding themselves surprised. "We
would open the newspaper and find something that Greg should have told
us about," one administration official who is sympathetic to Craig said.
They were surprised when Eric Holder, the attorney general, decided to
appoint a prosecutor to review interrogation files. It wasn't so much
that they disagreed with the decision -- Holder's independence is
something that the White House grudgingly accepts as necessary and
proper -- it was that Craig wasn't in the loop. He had not taken the
time to build himself up as an institutional figure who the attorney general wouldn't dare avoid briefing before acting.
House was also dissatisfied with Craig's handling of political
appointments, believing that Craig should have spent more time working
with the Justice Department and with Congress to force through some of
the president's most eagerly awaited principals, like Dawn Johnsen,
whose nomination to be head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal
Counsel still languishes. The issue of nominations is especially
sensitive for the president, a constitutional law lecturer in his
Management of the White House counsel staff had
become such an acute problem over the summer that the president
expected Craig to resign. When Craig did not resign -- and accounts
differ as to why -- the president's staff appeared to be ready to give
Craig a second chance -- to show up more prepared for briefings on
non-national-security-related topics, for example. But in
mid-September, Craig apparently got the message.