President Obama's chief lawyer will leave at the end of June and return to private practice, where he once again will represent the president's election team and the Democratic National Committee, the White House announced Thursday.
Robert Bauer is the latest top official returning to the campaign trail. He has served as White House counsel since late 2009 and will be replaced by deputy Kathryn Ruemmler, a former federal prosecutor who helped lead the government's case against the former executives of Enron.
In a statement, Mr. Obama praised his longtime lawyer as "good friend" and "trusted adviser."
"Bob was a critical member of the White House team," Mr. Obama said. "He has exceptional judgment, wisdom and intellect, and he will continue to be one of my close advisers."
Mr. Bauer, who will return to the law firm of Perkins Coie, has been a top aide to Mr. Obama dating back to his days as a freshman senator from Illinois. The 59-year-old is married to Anita Dunn, a former White House communications director under Mr. Obama.
He took over for Gregory Craig in November 2009 after Mr. Craig resigned amid criticism of his handling of the president's policy on the Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba.
Ms. Ruemmler has been a deputy to Mr. Bauer since January 2010. Before that, she served the principal associate deputy attorney general at the Justice Department. Previously, she spent two years as a litigator in private practice following a six-year run as a federal prosecutor.
"Kathy is an outstanding lawyer with impeccable judgment," Mr. Obama said. "Together, Bob and Kathy have led the White House Counsel's Office, and Kathy will assure that it continues to successfully manage its wide variety of responsibilities."
Mr. Bauer's is the latest in a string of White House departures as top officials leave the administration to return to the campaign trail as the president ramps up his 2012 re-election efforts. Mr. Obama's campaign manager is former White House deputy chief of staff Jim Messina, and senior adviser David Axelrod left earlier this year to return to the team's Chicago headquarters as well.
Former press secretary Robert Gibbs also is expected to assist the campaign, while his former deputy, Bill Burton, co-founded a Democratic "super PAC" that already is running ads against GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
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