Appointments, Confirmations & Budgets

At Last, a Legal Adviser Nominee!

By John Bellinger
Thursday, September 18, 2014, 11:01 PM

This afternoon, President Obama finally nominated a new State Department Legal Adviser -- Brian Egan, who currently serves as Deputy Counsel to the President and NSC Legal Adviser.  Here is Brian's bio:

Brian James Egan is Legal Adviser to the National Security Council and Deputy Assistant to the President and Deputy Counsel to the President at the White House, positions he has held since 2013.  Previously, he was Assistant General Counsel for Enforcement and Intelligence at the Department of the Treasury from 2012 to 2013.  Mr. Egan was Deputy Legal Adviser to the National Security Staff as well as Special Assistant to the President and Associate Counsel to the President from 2011 to 2012.  He served as Deputy Legal Adviser to the National Security Staff from 2009 to 2011.  He was an Attorney-Adviser at the Department of State from 2005 to 2009, and from 2000 to 2005 he was an Associate at Goodwin Procter, LLP (formerly Shea and Gardner) in Washington, D.C.  Earlier in his career, he was a paralegal in the Antitrust Division of the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. and San Francisco, California.  Mr. Egan received a B.A. from Stanford University and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley School of Law.

Although inexplicably delayed, this is a smart choice.   Brian is an experienced public international lawyer who is widely respected in the national security community.   He is well-known to the President and the NSC Principals, including Secretary Kerry, and he knows the hot issues facing the Obama Administration, including the Islamic State, Russia/Ukraine, Iran, and Syria.  (I had served as NSC Legal Adviser prior to serving as State Department Legal Adviser and found the prior White House and interagency experience extremely beneficial.)   Brian has the additional advantage of having previously served as a career lawyer in the State Department Legal Adviser's office (including during the four years while I was Legal Adviser), so he knows the Department and most of the lawyers in the Legal Adviser's office already.

The Senate should act quickly to confirm him.  The Administration needs a Legal Adviser to explain its international legal positions and coordinate with foreign governments.