Jeh Charles Johnson (born September 11, 1957) is an American civil, criminal trial lawyer, and General Counsel of the Department of Defense from 2009 to 2012 during the first Obama Administration. Johnson is a graduate of Morehouse College (B.A.) and Columbia Law School (J.D.), and is grandson of noted sociologist and Fisk University president Dr. Charles S. Johnson. Barack Obama will nominate him to the post of Secretary of Homeland Security in October 2013.
Johnson’s first name (pronounced “Jay”) is taken from a Liberian chief, who reportedly saved his grandfather’s life while Dr. Johnson was on a League of Nations mission to Liberia in 1930.
Johnson served as Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1989-1991. From 1998-2001, he was General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force under President Bill Clinton. Prior to his appointment as General Counsel of the Department of Defense, Johnson was a partner at the New York law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP of which he was the first African American to be elected to that firm’s partnership and to which he returned after his four years at the Defense Department. He was elected a fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers in 2004.
On January 8, 2009, he was named by President Barack Obama to be General Counsel for the Defense Department. In December 2012, he resigned this position effective at the end of the year to return to private practice.
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