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February 3, 2010 4:01 PM

Ex-Paul Weiss Partner to Lead Pentagon Review on Gays in Military

Posted by Brian Baxter

Jeh Johnson Former federal prosecutor and Paul Weiss partner Jeh Johnson wears many hats, including that of trusted political adviser. As general counsel of the Department of Defense, Johnson will now lead a Pentagon review on how best to implement the Obama administration's recommended changes to a "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays serving in the U.S. military passed by Congress 16 years ago.

The Pentagon's top lawyer is ideally suited to the task. After serving as an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan in the early nineties, followed by a few years at Paul Weiss, Johnson was appointed in 1998 to serve as general counsel for the Air Force during the Clinton administration.

Johnson spent more than two years piloting the Air Force's in-house legal team, before returning to Paul Weiss in 2001. While at the firm, Johnson bolstered his political connections.

According to a February 2007 story from The New York Times, Johnson helped Barack Obama make campaign inroads in New York, traditionally a bastion of support for Hillary Clinton. Johnson became one of Obama's top fund-raisers, bundling between $200,000 and $500,000 in donations for the 2008 presidential campaign.

So it was little surprise when Obama tapped Johnson and several other Am Law 100 compatriots last year for top positions in his new administration.

Johnson will cochair the Pentagon review with Gen. Carter Ham, a decorated Iraq War veteran and commander of the U.S. Army's operations in Europe. The study is expected to take up to a year.

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