Monday, November 19, 2012

The White House Attorney Who Knew Jill Kelley: Michael J. Gottlieb?

As soon as I learned that Jill Kelley knew an attorney working in the Obama White House who arranged her three recent visits to the White House, including a tour of the White House just two days before the election and only days before the White House disclosed that Gen. David Petraeus had resigned as CIA Director because of an extramarital affair he had with his biographer, Paula Broadwell, I became determined to learn who that attorney was. The White House refused to disclose the attorney's name, telling reporters that his name would be disclosed in a few months when White House logs of Jill Kelley's visits to the White House became public. "The man worked as a civilian lawyer in Afghanistan and got to know military personnel, who invited him to MacDill, where he met Kelley. He now works as a lawyer in the White House," the Tampa Bay Times reported.

I thought to myself: How many attorneys on the White House staff formerly worked as a civilian lawyer in Afghanistan? I'm guessing just one. The only one I've been able to find is Michael J. Gottlieb, a special assistant and associate counsel to the President earning $130,500 a year, and I'm pretty sure he's the one who knew Jill Kelley. Gottlieb is a 2003 graduate of Harvard Law School and a 1999 graduate of Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. I found the audio of a speech on Northwestern University's website that Gottlieb delivered to Northwestern School of Communication graduates in June of this year. The website story provided this biographical summary for Gottlieb describing his work in Afghanistan as a civilian attorney:

As the Associate White House Counsel and Special Assistant to the President, Gottlieb has advised the President and senior White House staff on a wide range of legal and legal policy issues. From January 2010 to March 2011, he was detailed to Kabul, Afghanistan as the Deputy Director of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435, which focused on rule of law development and detention operations for the U.S. Government in Afghanistan. Prior to his time with the Obama Administration, he served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the U.S. Attorney's Office in the Central District of California and practiced at the law firm of WilmerHale in Washington, DC, where he focused on government public policy and appellate litigation.
Immediately after law school, Gottlieb clerked for Judge Stephen Reinhardt on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and for Justice John Paul Stevens on the United States Supreme Court. He is a 2003 graduate of Harvard Law School and a 1999 graduate of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences at Northwestern. While at Northwestern, he twice won the intercollegiate National Debate Tournament.
Gottlieb attributes how he wound up on the White House counsel's staff as pure luck. He said he went to law school and had become friends with the woman who arranged interviews for the White House counsel's office and who had worked on Obama's Senate campaign in 2004. During Gottlieb's speech to the Northwestern School of Communication's graduates, Gottlieb describes how he wound up working with detainees in Afghanistan. Gottlieb says he was contacted by a brigadier general in the Army who was in charge of detainees and who asked him to come to work with him in Afghanistan as his civilian deputy. Gottlieb described his work at the White House as providing advice on national security legal issues, including detentions and interrogations. Gottlieb explained how the brigadier general in the Army was being sent to Afghanistan to run a new task force to promote rule of law development and head up U.S. detentions. Gottlieb reflected very positively on his experience in Afghanistan. He describes his time spent there as the best 14 months of his life. He said he was inspired by the sacrifice of our soldiers and brave Afghans who held out hope of a better future for their children. Gottlieb said his service in Afghanistan made him a better decision-maker, better colleague, better public servant and a better person.

After doing a little more digging into who that brigadier general could have been, I discovered that another Harvard Law School graduate, Mark Martins, is a brigadier general in the Army who was in charge of detention operations in Afghanistan during the same period of time Gottlieb worked in Afghanistan. Martins graduated from Harvard in 1990, one year ahead of President Obama, and both Martins and Obama served on the Harvard Law Review together. Martins served with Army Gen. David Petraeus when he commanded our forces in Iraq. Both Gottlieb's and Martin's work in Afghanistan overlapped Gen. Petraeus' command of our forces in Afghanistan from July 4, 2010, to July 18, 2011. It makes sense that the military commanders in Afghanistan, such as Gen. Petraeus and Gen. John Allen, both of whom knew Jill Kelley, in addition to Martins, could have been responsible for introducing Gottlieb to Kelley when they invited him to CentComm at MacDill Air Force base in Tampa, Florida.

Why is Gottlieb's identify so important? It proves that someone at the White House may well have been communicating with Kelley during the investigation of Gen. Petraeus specifically about the investigation that had been launched after Kelley had complained to her friend, Frederick Humphries, who worked for the FBI, about the harassing e-mails that Broadwell had been sending to her in the spring of this year. Gottlieb is probably the only attorney at the White House who would have been in the unique position because of his work in Afghanistan and who had the opportunity to get to know Gen. Petraeus, Gen. Allen and even Broadwell during the time she spent in Afghanistan performing research for her biography of Petraeus, "All In." If Gottlieb knew about the investigation of Petraeus weeks, if not months, before the White House first acknowledged the investigation of Petraeus the day after the election, is it even remotely conceivable that President Obama knew nothing about the investigation before the election? I think not.

UPDATE: As if this scandal isn't already filled with enough comedy, gadfly attorney Gloria Allred has entered the picture to represent Jill Kelley's twin sister, Natalie Khawam. "My personal feeling on this matter is that women are being depicted in a negative and stereotypical manner which appears to be very unfair to all of them," Allred told the Daily Caller. Yeah, right. Only a fool would hire Allred. I'm convinced that Allred violates the rules of professional conduct by contacting women involved in high-profile public cases and soliciting their representation just so she can conduct press conferences to engage in self-promotion. She typically does more harm to her clients than good because of the bad publicity she brings to them at her press conferences, which are covered by the tabloid media simply for comical relief. Ask any attorney in this country what they think of her and the response you will get will either be a roll of the eyes or a big chuckle. I'll be interested to see if anyone in the media who covers Allred's circus tomorrow will ask her client if she knows Michael Gottlieb since she reportedly accompanied her sister Jill on her recent trips to the White House to meet with the previously undisclosed White House lawyer. Recall also Allred's October surprise in this past presidential campaign when she tried to make an issue of Mitt Romney's testimony many years ago during the divorce trial of Staples' co-founder Tom Stemberg by unsealing his ex-wife's divorce records in an effort to prove that Romney understated the company's value in order to help Stemberg defraud Stemberg's ex-wife, even if it meant practicing law in Massachusetts where she is not licensed to practice law.

UPDATE II: Gloria Allred's press conference with her client, Natalie Khawam, was all show and no substance to nobody's surprise. Essentially, Allred just wanted to step in front of the cameras to accuse the family court judge who awarded her client's ex-husband custody of their son of committing a miscarriage of justice, which she assured us would be overturned on appeal. Allred isn't handling the appeal, and she isn't licensed to practice law in the state of Florida. She also blamed the family court proceedings for bankrupting her client, although one reporter questioned her account, noting that friends and associates had paid most of her legal bills. Allred had nothing but praise for Gen. Petraeus and Gen. Allen for providing supporting affidavits to Khawam during her custody battle; otherwise, she wouldn't answer any questions about her or her client's sister's relationship with the generals. The press members in attendance seemed skeptical about the purpose of today's press conference and some wondered if Allred wasn't doing more harm to her client by further publicizing her child custody battle. One reporter asked Allred about her client's visits to the White House with her sister Jill Kelley. Allred said her client visited the White House once for a tour, but she refused to answer the reporter's question about who arranged that White House tour. One reporter could be overheard saying as Allred walked slowly into the room with her client as if if she was a father walking his daughter down the aisle at her wedding, "This is a joke." Yes, it is.

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1 comment:

Paul K. Ogden said...

Yes, I'm not aware of a single attorney who doesn't think Gloria Allred is a bad joke who harms her clients for personal publicity.