At a Glance
- Career History: Partner at Covington & Burling LLP (May 1999 to April 2009); Special Counsel to President Bill Clinton (February 1997 to April 1999); Partner at Covington & Burling LLP (Octobert 1995 to February 1997); Associate at Covington & Burling LLP (Octobert 1989 to October 1995); Assistant District Attorney (August 1985 to August 1989)
- Birthday: August 5, 1958
- Hometown: New York, New York
- Alma Mater: Columbia University, B.A., 1980; J.D., 1985
Path to Power
Breuer's parents were both Jewish refugees - his dad from Austria and his mom from Germany - who fled Europe during World War II and settled in Queens, N.Y. Breuer is a New Yorker through and through. He grew up in New York, attended P.S. 13, and went to Columbia University for undergraduate and law school. In between his B.A. and his J.D., he worked as a teacher at the American School in Switzerland and as a consultant for Political Communications Inc., a political consulting firm no longer exists.
During law school, Breuer worked as a summer associate for Kobin & Meyer in Oregon and Drinker Biddle & Reath in Philadelphia. After law school, he joined the Manhattan district attorney's office and worked as a prosecutor for cases ranging from police corruption to organized crime to murder and armed robbery.
Before being nominated by Obama, Breuer served as co-chair of Covington's White-Collar Defense and Investigations practice group. His specialties are "white collar criminal and complex civil litigation, internal corporate investigations, congressional investigations, anti-trust cartel proceedings, and other matters involving high-profile legal, political and public relations risks."
"Aside from having a fine-tuned legal mind, his greatest talent is that he observes people, takes their measure, understands what part of them he can work with and finds a way to depersonalize the disagreement," former White House Counsel Lanny Davis said. "I once said to him, 'You ought to be a marriage counselor.'"
Breuer worked for Clinton's legal team during the former president's 1998 impeachment hearings and trial. That all-star effort included former Obama White House Counsel Gregory B. Craig, Charles Ruff, Nicole Seligman, Cheryl Mills and David Kendall. In that capacity, Breuer worked with a lot of high-level Clinton advisers like John Podesta (a top Obama adviser), Harold Ickes, Rahm Emanuel (now Obama's chief of staff) and Lanny Davis.
He was a partner at Covington & Burling, where Obama Attorney General Eric Holder was also a partner.
Breuer has donated roughly $9,000 to political campaigns since 2000, all to Democrats. He donated to Sens. Mark Warner (D-Va.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.) and Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Reps. Rahm Emanuel (D-Ill.) and Henry Waxman (D-Calif.). He donated the maximum $4,600 to Hillary Rodham Clinton during her 2008 presidential campaign but has never donated to Barack Obama.