Defense Department General Counsel Jeh Johnson plans to resign as the Pentagon’s top lawyer at the end of the year, the Post’s Emily Heil reported Thursday.

Johnson, who said in a letter to President Obama that he will finish out the year and return to private law practice, helped the Obama administration deal with a host of controversial issues, including the growing use of drones, the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and a task force that studies the potential impact of repealing the military’s now-repealed Don’t Ask Don’t Tell policy. 

Johnson conducted and co-wrote a study on the impact of allowing gays and lesbians to serve openly in the military, effectively paving the way for Congress to repeal the DADT policy.

“Jeh’s influence has touched virtually all areas of the Department of Defense over the past four years, and he will be sorely missed,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said in a statement.

Johnson served as an Assistant United States Attorney in New York from 1988 until 1991 and as general counsel of the Air Force from 1998 until 2000. Obama nominated him to be general counsel to the Defense Department in January 2009.

Robert Taylor, the Defense Department’s Principal Deputy General Counsel, will serve as acting general counsel until Congress approves a long-term replacement for Johnson. 

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