Patrick Philbin
Patrick F. Philbin (January 21, 2020).jpg
Deputy White House Counsel
Assumed office
February 2019
PresidentDonald Trump
LeaderPat Cipollone
Personal details
Political partyRepublican
EducationYale University (BA)
Harvard University (JD)

Patrick F. Philbin is an American lawyer who serves as Deputy Counsel to the President and Deputy Assistant to the President in the Office of White House Counsel in the Donald J. Trump administration.[1] He previously served in the Department of Justice during the George W. Bush administration.[2]:27


Philbin is a graduate of the Roxbury Latin School in Boston, Massachusetts.[citation needed] He holds a B.A. in History from Yale University where he graduated summa cum laude in 1989 and was a member of Phi Beta Kappa.[3] He received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1992,[2]:27 magna cum laude, where he was executive editor of the Harvard Law Review.[3][4] In addition, he received a Diploma in Legal Studies from the University of Cambridge in 1995.[3]


Philbin first served as a law clerk for Federal Appeals Court Judge Laurence Silberman.[5] Next he worked as a clerk for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.[2]:27 Following his clerkships, Philbin entered private practice in the Washington, D.C. office of Kirkland & Ellis LLP.[3][2]:27

During the Bush Administration, Philbin served as a political appointee in the Department of Justice, first as a Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel from 2001 to 2003 and then as an Associate Deputy Attorney General in the Office of the Deputy Attorney General from 2003 to 2005.[6][3][7][2]:27 Philbin was one of the lawyers who helped counsel President Bush that as head of the United States' Government executive branch, the president had the authority to charge Guantanamo captives before military commissions[5] (see the Legal opinions section of the Wikipedia article on John Yoo).

During the Bush administration, Philbin reviewed the Torture Memos and raised concerns with John Yoo and Jay Bybee about their contents.[8] An investigation by the Office of Professional Responsibility concluded that Philbin did not commit professional misconduct.[2]:257–258

According to James Comey, Acting Attorney General at the time, Philbin was present in March 2004 when Comey rushed to John Ashcroft's hospital bed to try to prevent other Bush officials – White House Chief of Staff Andy Card and the man who was then White House counsel, Alberto Gonzales – from persuading the very sick Attorney General to reverse Comey's decision as Acting Attorney General to not approve renewal of the controversial warrantless wiretap program during the war on terror.[9][10] Philbin was "one of the people who started the legal review of the spying program that concluded the program was illegal", and Comey testified that Philbin's career suffered for his support of Comey's intervention between Gonzales and Ashcroft; according to Comey, Vice President Dick Cheney blocked Philbin's appointment to the position of Principal Deputy Solicitor General, denying him the honor of working on behalf of the government before the Supreme Court.[11][6]

Philbin returned to private practice in 2005,[2]:27 returning as a partner to Kirkland & Ellis, where he focused on appellate litigation, complex litigation, and data security.[3][2]:27 In 2019, Philbin was appointed as Deputy Counsel to the President and Deputy Assistant to the President in the Office of White House Counsel in the Trump Administration.[1] In 2020, he was appointed to the defense team that represents President Trump in the Senate impeachment trial.[12]


  1. ^ a b White House Staff. "President Donald J. Trump Announces Appointments for the Executive Office of the President". The White House. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h Department of Justice Office of Professional Responsibility (July 29, 2009). Investigation into the Office of Legal Counsel's Memoranda Concerning Issues Relating to the Central Intelligence Agency's Use of "Enhanced Interrogation Techniques" on Suspected Terrorists (PDF) (Report). United States Department of Justice. Retrieved May 29, 2017.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Philbin, Patrick F. "Patrick F. Philbin, P.C.—Partner Profile". Washington, D.C.: Kirkland & Ellis LLP. Archived from the original on October 6, 2018.[third-party source needed]
  4. ^ In his final year of law school, Philbin contributed a Note to the Harvard Law Review regarding medieval covenants. See Philbin, Patrick (1992). "Proving the Will of Another: The Specialty Requirement in Covenant". Harvard Law Review. 105 (8): 2001–2020. doi:10.2307/1341555. JSTOR 1341555. Authorship is not shown on the cited web page, but was verified by a separate JSTOR search.
  5. ^ a b Marcus, Ruth (May 25, 2007). "The legal terror of executive power". Albany Times Union. Retrieved May 26, 2007.[dead link][dead link]
  6. ^ a b Lattman, Peter (May 18, 2007). "The U.S. Attorney Mess: Spotlight on Patrick Philbin". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  7. ^ Bloomberg Staff. "Bloomberg Profile: Patrick F. Philbin". New York, NY: Bloomberg LLP. Retrieved January 30, 2020.[better source needed]
  8. ^ Eviatar, Daphne (April 25, 2010). "Who Told Yoo To Do Those 'Bad Things'?". Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  9. ^ Auchenbach, Joel (May 16, 2007). "Waterboarding Ashcroft". Washington Post. Archived from the original on September 7, 2008. Retrieved May 23, 2007.
  10. ^ Taylor, Stuart, Jr. (May 22, 2007). "Another Gonzales Horror Story". The Atlantic. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  11. ^ Shapiro, Ari (June 7, 2007). "Cheney Blocks DOJ Official's Promotion: Document". Retrieved February 18, 2019.
  12. ^ O'Reilly, Andrew (January 14, 2020). "Trump's impeachment trial team: Who are the lawyers defending the president?". Fox News. Retrieved January 15, 2020.

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