Law Faculty Articles and Research

White House Counsel and the Attorney Client Privilege

Ronald D. Rotunda, Chapman University


On June 23rd , when the U.S. Supreme Court denied certiorari in In re Grand Jury Subpoena Duces Tecum,(1) news reports indicated surprise. White House Counsel Charles Ruff reacted to the Supreme Court decision by announcing that he continues "to believe that government lawyers must be allowed to have confidential discussions with their clients if they are able to provide candid legal advice." Ruff is right about this principle, but he is wrong in thinking that his client is Mr. Clinton. His client is an entity, the Office of the President, not this particular officeholder. Mr. Clinton has his personal lawyers, and Ruff is not one of them.