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So Why Are the White House Lawyers There? [UPDATE & UPDATE2]

If “legal ethics” (ha!) prevent the White House attorneys from speaking with litigants in the DADT cases without their attorneys present, but the White House wants to talk legislative strategy with the Veal Pen LGBT groups (and need the two Servicemembers groups, the Palm Center and the Log Cabin Republicans at the meeting today for cover) why invite the White House attorneys at all?

Today, Gibbsy is answering questions in his usually oblique way, without ever saying whether the president plans to use his stop/loss authority to halt the discharges under DADT.

Why not have a candid, freewheeling conversation with all the LGBT issues out on the table? . . .

Surely this meeting could be more constructive, and could cover more ground more quickly, if the White House lawyers and their precious ethics rules were excluded. After all, there’s nothing that disallows two parties to a lawsuit from having a direct conversation. And if the lawyers aren’t present, more could be accomplished in a discussion of upcoming legislative strategy anyway. Perhaps there could even be some meeting of the minds over the lawsuit itself!

Unless, of course, the White House strategists are using their lawyers as a shield to prevent their pet LGBT activists from being harassed by the people who brought the successful DADT lawsuit against the government. That couldn’t happen, could it?

Could it?

UPDATE: Here’s the list of who’s at the meeting from Kerry Eleveld at the Advocate. You are reading her stuff every day, aren’t you?

The Advocate has obtained a copy of an e-mail sent by Brian Bond, deputy director of the White House Office of Public Engagement and the de facto LGBT liaison, to the meeting’s participants, who include: Allison Herwitt and Joe Solmonese of the Human Rights Campaign; Shane Larson of the Stonewall Democrats; Winnie Stachelberg of the Center for American Progress; Aubrey Sarvis of the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network; R. Clarke Cooper of the Log Cabin Republicans; Alex Nicholson and Jarrod Chlapowski of Servicemembers United; Nathaniel Frank, DADT expert, formerly of the Palm Center; and Jim Kessler of the Third Way.

UPDATE2, also from Kerry, of course:

President Barack Obama dropped by a White House meeting Tuesday of pro-repeal advocates who were convened to discuss the prospects of moving “don’t ask don’t tell” repeal before the end of the year.

“The President stopped by to directly convey to the participants his personal commitment on this issue,” said a White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity.

The official declined to give any further details on the duration of the president’s stay or the content of the meeting, but an email earlier in the day indicated participants would be focused soley on strategizing about passing legislation during the lame duck session.


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Teddy Partridge