Appointments, Confirmations & Budgets

Excellent Nominations for CIA GC and DoD GC

By John Bellinger
Tuesday, March 7, 2017, 10:23 PM

This evening, President Trump nominated Courtney Elwood to be CIA General Counsel and John Sullivan to be DoD General Counsel. These are excellent appointments and good news for the national security law community. Courtney and John are both superb lawyers—both former Supreme Court clerks, for Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice Souter, respectively—with extensive national security experience in the Bush Administration. The country will be well-served by both of them.

I worked closely with Courtney for seven years when she was Associate Counsel to the President and later Deputy Counsel to the Vice President and Counselor to the Attorney General in the Bush Administration. Courtney is a very careful lawyer with outstanding judgment. She was never ideological or especially partisan in her views. She works well with others; before making decisions, she actively sought out a variety of viewpoints (including mine). She is tough-minded and independent. She will be able to say no when it is necessary to do so. Being CIA General Counsel is a hard job in any Administration and promises to be especially difficult in the Trump Administration. I don’t envy Courtney but she will be an outstanding lawyer for Mike Pompeo and for the men and women of the CIA. I expect that she will also work well with Congress, both Republicans and Democrats.

John Sullivan is extremely well-qualified to serve as DoD General Counsel. He served as Deputy General Counsel of Defense in the Bush Administration and later as General Counsel and later Deputy Secretary of the Department of Commerce. He is a pragmatic, level-headed, non-ideological lawyer.

Critics of the Trump Administration should take heart in both nominations, and the Senate should act quickly to confirm both Elwood and Sullivan.


Editor's Note: The White House's press release on Elwood and Sullivan's appointments is available on the White House website and below.


Office of the Press Secretary


March 7, 2017

President Donald J. Trump Announces Key Administration Posts

Today, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to nominate the following individuals to key Administration posts:

  • Courtney Simmons Elwood – General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency
  • Noel J. Francisco – Solicitor General, Department of Justice
  • Jeffrey A. Rosen – Deputy Secretary, Department of Transportation
  • John J. Sullivan – General Counsel, Department of Defense
  • Ajit V. Pai – Member of the Federal Communications Commission

In addition, President Donald J. Trump announced his intent to appoint the following individual to a key Administration post:

· Tony E. Sayegh, Jr. – Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of the Treasury

"These dedicated men and women will help me and the rest of the Administration as we continue our work to make America great again. I am grateful for their willingness to serve and honored that they will be joining my team," President Trump said.

These individuals come to the Administration with years of impressive service in the public and private sectors:

Courtney Simmons Elwood, Nominee for General Counsel, Central Intelligence Agency

Courtney Simmons Elwood is a partner with the firm Kellogg, Hansen, Todd, Figel & Frederick, PLLC. She joined this firm (then Kellogg, Huber, Hansen) in 1996, after clerking for Chief Justice William H. Rehnquist on the Supreme Court of the United States and for Judge J. Michael Luttig on the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Between 2001 to 2007, Ms. Elwood served as Associate Counsel to the President, Deputy Counsel to the Vice President, and Deputy Chief of Staff and Counselor to the Attorney General. Ms. Elwood is a member of the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit’s Advisory Committee on Procedures and a member of the Yale Law School Association Executive Committee. She is a 1994 graduate of Yale Law School, where she was Essays Editor of the Yale Law Journal, and a 1990 summa cum laude graduate of Washington and Lee University. “Ms. Elwood understands the CIA’s mission and critical role of the rule of law in achieving that mission,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said. “The warriors at CIA look forward to her joining in our mission to be the premier espionage agency in the world.”

Noel J. Francisco, Nominee for Solicitor General, Department of Justice

Noel J. Francisco has served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General for the United States since January 23, 2017. Prior to joining the Justice Department, he was a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of Jones Day, where he was the chair of the Firm’s Government Regulation Practice. While at Jones Day, he appeared several times before the Supreme Court, including in McDonnell v. United States, which involved the meaning of “official act” under federal bribery statutes; Zubik v. Burwell, which involved the application of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act to regulations addressing insurance coverage for contraception; andNLRB v. Noel Canning, which involved the Constitution’s recess appointment power. He has also argued numerous cases in lower federal and State courts on a wide range of constitutional, civil, and criminal matters.

From 2001 to 2003, Mr. Francisco served as Associate Counsel to the President, and from 2003 to 2005 he served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel.

Mr. Francisco was raised in Oswego, NY. He received his B.A. with honors in 1991 from the University of Chicago. He received his J.D. with high honors in 1996 from the University of Chicago Law School. After law school, Mr. Francisco served as a law clerk for Judge J. Michael Luttig of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, and then for Associate Justice Antonin Scalia of the Supreme Court of the United States.

Mr. Francisco lives in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Cynthia, and their two daughters, Caroline and Maggie.

Ajit V. Pai, Nominee for Member of the Federal Communications Commission

Ajit V. Pai was designated acting Chairman of the Federal Communications Commission by President Donald J. Trump in January 2017. He had previously served as Commissioner at the FCC, appointed by then-President Barack Obama and confirmed unanimously by the Senate in May 2012. Before this, Mr. Pai was a Partner at Jenner & Block, LLP from 2011 until 2012, and Deputy General Counsel, Associate General Counsel, and Special Advisor to the General Counsel at the FCC from 2007 until 2011.

Chairman Pai graduated with honors from Harvard University in 1994 and from the University of Chicago Law School in 1997, where he was an editor of the University of Chicago Law Review and won the Thomas R. Mulroy Prize. In 2010, Pai was one of 55 individuals nationwide chosen for the 2011 Marshall Memorial Fellowship, a leadership development initiative of the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

The son of immigrants from India, Chairman Pai grew up in Parsons, Kansas. He now lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, Janine; son, Alexander; and daughter, Annabelle.

Jeffrey A. Rosen, Nominee for Deputy Secretary for Department of Transportation

Jeffrey A. Rosen is a Senior Partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP with whom he has been associated for nearly 30 years with the exception of two distinguished appointments. From 2006 through 2009, Mr. Rosen was appointed as General Counsel and Senior Policy Advisor for the Office of Management and Budget and from 2003 through 2006, he served as General Counsel at the Department of Transportation. At Kirkland & Ellis, Mr. Rosen’s practice has principally involved complex business litigation and regulatory matters involving contracts, antitrust, securities, RICO, business torts, enforcement actions and product liability, including class actions. He has been engaged in litigation before federal and state courts in more than 20 states, including jury trials, bench evidentiary hearings, arbitrations and appellate arguments.

Mr. Rosen returns to the Department of Transportation with extensive experience, having previously served as the Department’s Chief Legal Officer where he oversaw the activities of more than 400 lawyers. In that role, for which he was confirmed unanimously by the Senate, Mr. Rosen had responsibility for the Department’s regulatory program, enforcement and litigation activities, legal issues relating to international activities involving transportation, coordination and clearance of legislative matters, and advised the Secretary of Transportation on a wide range of topics.

Mr. Rosen received a B.A. with highest distinction in 1979 from Northwestern University and a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 1982. Mr. Rosen has also served as an adjunct professor at Georgetown University Law Center. He is a resident of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

Tony E. Sayegh, Jr., Appointee for Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs, Department of the Treasury

Tony E. Sayegh, Jr. is a Republican strategist, political analyst, and a Fox News Contributor. He served as Executive Vice President of Jamestown Associates, a nationally recognized political consulting, communications strategy, and media advertising firm. His creative campaigns have received prominent industry recognition, winning both the 2014 Reed Award for “Most Original TV Advertisement” and the 2015 Reed Award for “Best Comparative Mail Piece.”

Mr. Sayegh was first elected to public office in 2003, serving two terms as the Deputy Mayor & Trustee in Tuckahoe, New York.

Mr. Sayegh attended The George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where he received both a B.A in Political Science and Master of Public Administration. As an undergraduate, Mr. Sayegh was elected as the Executive Vice President of the Student Association and was awarded the Presidential Administrative Fellowship to pursue graduate studies at the University. He later served on the University Board of Trustees.

John J. Sullivan, Nominee for General Counsel for Department of Defense

Mr. Sullivan was most recently a partner in Mayer Brown’s Washington, D.C. office and co-chair of the firm’s National Security practice. He has held senior positions at the Justice, Defense, and Commerce Departments, advising the Attorney General, the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Commerce, and the Counsel to the President on the most sensitive legal and policy issues. During his tenure at Mayer Brown, Mr. Sullivan focused his practice on the growing intersection of global trade and investment and national security. Prior to joining Mayer Brown, Mr. Sullivan served at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel, where he was Counselor to Assistant Attorney General J. Michael Luttig. He advised senior officials on legal issues arising out of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and provided legal advice to the FBI, CIA, Treasury Department, and White House Counsel’s Office. Earlier in his career, he served as a law clerk for Associate Justice David H. Souter of the Supreme Court of the United States, and for Judge John Minor Wisdom of the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. Mr. Sullivan received his bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Brown University and his law degree from Columbia University School of Law, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar, Teaching Fellow, and Book Reviews Editor of the Columbia Law Review.