The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Ruemmler asks not to be considered to succeed Holder, White House confirms

Placeholder while article actions load

Former White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler told President Obama this week he should take her name out of consideration for the post of attorney general, White House officials confirmed Friday.

“We can confirm the president asked Kathy to consider this, and she was among those the president had been looking at,” said a White House official who asked for anonymity in a written statement, referring to the search to replace retiring Attorney General Eric Holder. “Kathy took this step this week on her own volition—as she always has done, putting the president and the administration first.”

The Associated Press first broke the news Friday, reporting that Ruemmler recused herself as a candidate out of concern that it could prompt a contentious confirmation battle on Capitol Hill. Ruemmler, a close confidant of the president who left her post earlier this year to return to private practice in New York, was a fierce defender of executive privilege on controversial issues ranging from the attack at Benghazi to the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative groups.

White House chief of staff Denis McDonough praised Ruemmler in a statement for her commitment to the president.

“Kathy is someone who always tells it like it is, is a world-class lawyer, and remains a trusted advisor to the president,” McDonough said. “Anyone who knows Kathy knows she has impeccable judgment, extraordinary foresight – and is a formidable force. But she is also as selfless as they come, and the president is proud to call her a close friend.”

White House officials would not say who else they are considering for the post, though they said they would not nominate anyone until after the mid-term elections.

With Ruemmler’s exit, the candidates under most serious consideration to succeed Holder are Solicitor General Donald B. Verrilli Jr.; Loretta E. Lynch, U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York. Other lawyers whose names have been floated include Jenny Durkan, who resigned as U.S. attorney in Washington state last month; Labor Secretary Tom Perez; Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York; and Tony West, the former associate attorney general who stepped down last month to take a job at PepsiCo Inc..