Jeh (Jay) Johnsons, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, announced Thursday that he is stepping down, after four years of service, at the end of December. He originally left Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP to work the Pentagon job; he was integral as a key legal adviser and fund raiser for Senator Obama in his 2008 bid for president.
“Thank you for the opportunity to be part of your campaign, your transition, and your Administration,” he wrote. “Thank you also for the best clients I will ever have: Robert Gates, Leon Panetta, and the men and women of the U.S. military.”
In his four years, Johnson influenced many key issues, such as fighting to increase the government’s power to detain terrorism suspects, and to use drone strikes in Yemen and Somalia, but also in giving the press more access to proceedings against suspected terrorists. He also helped end the “Don’t ask, Don’t tell” policy of the military, allowing soldiers to now be openly gay.
He has been integral in responding to the mass leaking of military documents, which Bradley Manning has been accused of being a part of. He penned a letter to the WikiLeaks attorney, demanding the materials be removed.
Johnson expects to take some time off before returning to Paul and Weiss.