Despite all the chaos, Dana Remus, a lawyer, was Team Biden's voice of reason.
Remus was Biden's top attorney during the presidential transition. Her ability to keep her colleagues focused on the legal issues and push ahead with screening Cabinet and judicial nominations made her a lasting impression. She is now the White House counsel.
Andrew Wright, who was with Remus during the transition, said that "You could be in a middle of the hurlyburly and have an informal conversation with her. But the kind of atmospheric anxiety doesn’t get in your way of the legal problems that you’re dealing with." "She isn't panicky, which in any case is a good sign for a lawyer."
Remus may face the most difficult task: leading Biden as the White House supports investigations and holds accountable those who were involved in Jan. 6's insurrection while avoiding creating a precedent that could harm the office for future generations.
According to colleagues, the president would have difficulty finding a better-suited lawyer for the job at the moment.
Her office helped Biden navigate legal decisions regarding pandemic policy. It also led the effort of the administration to make more judicial nominees than any president since Richard Nixon. She also offered advice on Hunter Biden's adult son and how he can sell his paintings without creating conflicts.
Remus, 46, was a judicial and ethical expert in academia for many years before joining Biden. In the last 14 months of Obama's presidency, he served as President Barack Obama’s chief ethics lawyer. Remus's first job was as Biden’s general counsel in the 2020 election.
Ron Klain, White House chief of staff, stated that her credentials and experience show that President Biden was determined after four years of scandal-laden confusion-a-rama that Trump's administration to hire a top-quality lawyer with strong ethics background to serve as White House counsel.
Remus's work and that of her deputies have been criticized. This includes criticisms of how the administration extended a pandemic-era evacuation moratorium despite the fact that the majority Supreme Court justices indicated they would not accept any extension without authorization.
The White House's Hunter Biden artwork sales setup has been criticized by both ethics lawyers and Republicans. Walter Schaub, the former chief of the Office of Government Ethics, called the arrangement "the perfect way to funnel bribes to the president".
Remus's road ahead is only getting more difficult as lawmakers investigate the Jan. 6 rebellion push forward.
Biden was asked to approve early release of large amounts of records from Trump's administration. These documents include information about the internal decision-making process of the previous administration. Executive privilege generally protects these documents. Biden has already approved the release of the first set, which Trump is trying to block.
Trump claims the records should be kept secret by Biden and the courts. He also asserts that allowing the vaults of predecessors to be opened so quickly could undermine the presidency. If his successor decides to release his papers earlier, it's a risk Biden is taking.
Remus has guided Biden in his efforts to preserve his privilege. He argued that Trump's extraordinary attempt to reverse the election results justifies waiving his privilege.
Neil Eggleston is White House counsel under the Obama administration and believes that Remus' legal reasoning has merit. He said that the moment was delicate for the institution and presidency.
Eggleston said, "Every time there is a precedent you kinda worry: Is that going to get misused later on?" Eggleston hired Remus in 2015 as the Obama White House ethics attorney.
Obama was impressed by Remus's work at the White House. He hired her as his general counsel for his post presidency foundation. Obama was the officiant at Remus' wedding to Brett Holmgren (a national security official in Obama's administration). They met while working together at the Obama White House.
Holmgren is currently an assistant secretary for state for intelligence, research and policy.
Remus in the West Wing has been able deliver messages that Biden or top officials do not always want to hear.
"She's certainly not one of those lawyers who uses law to stop creative policymaking. So when she delivers a tough message -- the actually, we can't accomplish this' -- I think people realize that it comes from an honest legal analysis," stated Susan Rice, White House domestic policy advisor.
According to colleagues, Remus is a hater of the spotlight, despite being Academic All-American in crew her senior years at Harvard. Remus declined to comment on this story.
According to her friends, she is fiercely loyal. Remus and another former clerk wrote letters to the editor defending conservative Justice Samuel Alito.
Michael Bosworth was a lawyer who worked alongside Remus in the White House counsel’s office during the Obama administration. She said that she was able to solicit diverse opinions as "she wants a truly informed decision that's right on both the facts and the law."
Officials said that Remus placed a high value on kindness, diversity, and the ability to work together as a team when she assembled her 33-person team. Remus's office has 65% women, 20% LGBTQ+, 40% of people of color and most of them have a background in public interest.
White House officials claim that Remus's efforts in diversifying the judiciary bench were one of the most under-appreciated early successes of the president. He pledged as a candidate that he would make America's government more American.
Over 70% of the nominees were women, and the majority of those chosen were people of color. Remus also emphasized the importance of looking beyond large law firms and prosecutors in order to find candidates who have backgrounds as voting rights litigators, public defenders or other public interest experience.
Biden has been surrounded by senior advisers who he has known for many years. White House officials claim that Remus is still able to make it even though she is not part of his inner circle.
Klain stated that he knows she is there to give him legal guidance, and not friendship advice. I believe that a certain degree of professional separation in that relationship is better.