MSNBC reports that Paul Clement, current US Solicitor General, will be appointed as acting Attorney General until there is an appointment and confirmation on a permanent replacement.
Clement, who grew up in suburban Milwaukee, has a perfectly appointed conservative résumé.
The youngest child of an accountant father and a stay-at-home mother, Clement attended Georgetown University, where he studied international economics and cut his political teeth with two internships, first for then-Sen. Bob Kasten, R-Wis., and then in the Ronald Reagan White House.
After graduating, Clement deferred law school, while earning a masters degree in economics from Cambridge University. In 1989, he began at Harvard Law School, where he served as Supreme Court editor for the Harvard Law Review. Clement went on to prestigious clerkships for GOP appointees Judge Laurence Silberman of the D.C. Circuit and Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
In 1994, he accepted a job in the D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis, working in the high-powered appellate group led by one-time D.C. Circuit Judge and Solicitor General Kenneth Starr.
Clement called to take the job on the same day Starr signed on to serve as independent counsel in the Whitewater investigation. The senior partner’s absence worked out well for Clement, giving him the opportunity to play larger roles in cases and even argue two appeals as a young associate.
After 2 1/2 years at the firm, however, Clement found himself growing antsy. With Democrats in the White House, he took a job with Ashcroft, then a Republican senator from Missouri. Accepting a staff position on the Hill was an unconventional career move for an appellate practitioner, but ultimately sharpened Clement’s focus on pure litigation….
During his brief return to private practice, Clement collaborated with the conservative American Center for Law & Justice on two amicus briefs in Bush v. Gore, supporting George W. Bush on behalf of Republican voters….
Aside from [Ted] Olson, Clement is the only noncareer attorney in the solicitor general’s 19-lawyer office. The post for a political deputy was created in the early 1980s, in part to handle cases with an ideological edge. Clement’s unique role, as a top appellate litigator and trusted political aide, made him the natural candidate to assume responsibility for the DOJ’s terror docket, once it was consolidated in the solicitor general’s office.
Publicly, Clement has forcefully argued that the president has broad power in wartime to imprison those he deems enemies, indefinitely and without access to legal counsel. Clement’s allies suggest that behind closed doors he may counsel a more moderate stance.
MSNBC was just interviewing Bud Cummins, former USAtty from Arkansas, who suggested that the Bush Administration consider James Comey and/or Larry Thompson. So far this morning across the news channels, I’ve heard Chertoff, Ted Olson, Comey, Clement, and a number of other names floated as potential replacements for Gonzales. Anyone heard names beyond those? Let me know in the comments. Am trying to string together background on the ones I’ve heard thus far. Ed Henry reports on CNN that there is grumbling in the background from GOP members of Congress about Chertoff — and that Clay Johnson (who is at OMB) is “highly regarded by all” and that he’s a Texas pal, and that he would be a less contentious nomination (but they are whispering Johnson for a DHS replacement for Chertoff if they try and move Chertoff to DOJ) — that questions would be more substantive on policy. More as we get it…