Obama Picks Ex-DoD GC for Homeland Security Secretary
Johnson's career path through the Defense Department certainly gave him familiarity with some of the national security and homeland security issues he will face running the department, said Stewart Baker, a Steptoe & Johnson LLC partner who spent more than three years as DHS' assistant secretary for policy.
"He has had an extensive experience watching people run one of the world's largest organizations," Baker said. "He's a serious guy, he's well regarded and they certainly could have done worse."
Evan Wolff, a former senior advisor at DHS who is now a partner in Crowell & Moring’s government contracts group, said Johnson will likely confront terror threats, natural hazards and cybersecurity attacks—all of which will require a lot of work with private industry on regulatory and voluntary fronts.
"The challenge comes because the department has such a wide range of issues it's responsible for, including issues that are going to be important for this administration, like immigration reform," Wolff said.
Johnson was a litigation partner for two decades at Paul Weiss, and was general counsel of the Air Force during the Clinton administration. He was a policy adviser and top fundraiser for Obama's 2008 campaign. His nomination to lead the Homeland Security department now heads to the Senate for review.
The Senate confirmed another top homeland security attorney this week. Stephen Preston, the top lawyer at the Central Intelligence Agency and a former partner at Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr, was unanimously confirmed October 16 as general counsel to the Defense Department.
This article originally appeared as a post on The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times.