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Greg Craig, dumped by Obama White House in November, resurfaces to side with Goldman Sachs

April 20, 2010 |  8:58 am

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel, counsel Greg Craig and press secretary Robert Gibbs listening to President Obama May 1, 2009 by AP
Greg Craig resigned from the Obama administration in November, pushed out as White House Counsel after he pressed for a strict deadline for closing Guantanamo Bay.

“Trying to unwind the Bush policies while trying to manage two wars was not easy,” Craig said recently during an appearance at Harvard Law School during which he recounted his run-ins with Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel on the issue.

Now, with Obama's Security and Exchange Commission going after Wall Street as part of a broader Democratic election-year campaign against corporate America, Craig is working on the other side of the street. As a high-stakes drama unfolds between the Street against the White House, Goldman Sachs has hired Craig to represent the giant bank in Washington in its fight-for-survival defense against the SEC.

“He is clearly an attorney of eminence and has a deep understanding of the legal process and the world of Washington,” one source told Politico. “And those are important worlds for everybody in finance right now.”

Craig knows something about riveting political dramas. During an earlier chapter as White House counsel, he represented President Clinton during the 1999 impeachment proceedings that almost ended a presidency.

“He was in trouble,” Craig said in an interview with PBS' Frontline in 2000. “He knew he was in trouble. ... I felt that the presidency as an institution was in trouble.”

At the peak of the crisis, Craig recalled, he phoned a Democratic senator who told him that his colleagues  “were about two or three days away from a delegation of senior senators from the Democratic Party coming down and talking to the president about resigning.”

Then as now, the drama was spellbinding, and the stakes could not have been higher.

Guess who won.

-- Johanna Neuman

Photo: White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, left, Counsel Greg Craig, center, and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs listen to President Obama at the White House last year. Credit: Associated Press

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