WASHINGTON – If there was some path to becoming President-elect Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s best lawyer in the West Wing, it was unlikely he would have started with an apprenticeship from one of the top jurists. the country’s most conservative.
But Dana Remus, a Yale-trained attorney who worked for Judge Samuel A. Alito Jr. – a rock solid member of the conservative wing of the Supreme Court – has been appointed White House attorney in the administration. of Mr. Biden, where she will help guide the new president through politically charged legal battles with Republican lawmakers.
The first member of Mr Biden’s third run for president, Ms Remus was the campaign’s lead advocate and before that she was a key legal adviser to President Barack Obama. She was Mr. Obama’s White House ethics lawyer and has represented the Obama Foundation since she left in 2017.
Now Ms Remus will head the White House legal adviser’s office for Mr Biden as he seeks to unravel President Trump’s legislative and regulatory legacy and move forward with his own agenda.
People close to Ms Remus have said she will play a key role in this effort, in part because she understands the limitations – as well as the critical importance – of the law. Unlike some lawyers, they said, Ms. Remus understands that the law is only one part of a larger mix that includes politics, policies and communications.
“President Obama has completed his eight-year term without any scandal, and that is largely an honor to Dana,” said Eric Schultz, who has been Mr. Obama’s spokesperson since the early days of his government. presidency in 2008. “That’s why he asked him to help him manage his post-presidential transition, and that’s why it’s no surprise that Joe Biden asks him to help restore ethics and integrity in the White House.
Ms Remus was brought into Mr Biden’s orbit by Bob Bauer, a veteran Democratic lawyer who has been Mr Obama’s senior lawyer and who has been a legal fixture on Democratic presidents and candidates for decades.
In 2018, she married Brett Holmgren, who served as a national security assistant at the Obama White House. Wedding guests in Washington were surprised when the celebrant turned out to be none other than the former president himself.
Her closeness to Mr. Obama, and now Mr. Biden, has made Ms. Remus a rising star in the Democratic legal world. But she also remained willing to engage with the Conservatives.
In 2013, Ms Remus defended Judge Alito against a column accusing the lawyer of visibly mocking his colleague Judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg during a hearing.
The column, written by Dana Milbank of the Washington Post, said Judge Alito, “sitting immediately to the left of Ginsburg, shook his head side to side in disagreement, rolled his eyes and stared at the ceiling. While Judge Ginsburg spoke. In a letter to the editor, Ms Remus wrote that Judge Alito does not have “a deep and constant disrespect for women”.
“Those of us who have been fortunate enough to work closely with Judge Alito know that he is a good man who serves every day with humility, dedication and incredible intelligence and insight,” she wrote.
In the summer of 2019, Ms Remus taught a class at Duke Law School with Utah Republican Senator Mike Lee, one of the most conservative voices in the Senate. The class, for the DC Summer Institute on Law and School Policy, was intended for undergraduates or professionals who were considering attending law school. Ms Remus was already the lead advocate for Mr Biden’s campaign.
Next year, when Mr. Biden takes office, Mr. Lee and other Republican senators will be on the other side of the legal and political battles. It will be up to Mrs. Remus to help guide the new president through them.