After Republicans won control of the House in the November midterm elections, more people were added to handle the multitude of congressional investigations. Stuart Delery, the White House counsel who is stepping down this month, will be replaced by Ed Siskel, who handled Republican investigations into issues like the Benghazi terror attack for President Barack Obama’s White House.
A critical adviser for Mr. Biden will be his personal attorney, Bob Bauer, one of the most veteran figures in Washington’s legal-political wars. As a private lawyer, he advised the House Democratic leader during Mr. Clinton’s impeachment and then the Senate Democratic leader during the subsequent trial, helping to shape strategies that kept Democrats largely unified behind their president.
Mr. Biden himself has seen four impeachment efforts up close during his long career in Washington. He was a first-term senator when Mr. Nixon resigned rather than face a seemingly certain Senate trial in 1974 and a fifth-term senator when he voted to acquit Mr. Clinton in 1999. It was Mr. Biden that Mr. Trump tried to strong-arm Ukraine into investigating, leading to the former president’s first impeachment in 2019. And it was Mr. Biden’s victory in 2020 that Mr. Trump tried to overturn with the help of a mob that attacked Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, leading to a second impeachment.
The Clinton impeachment battle has provided some lessons for the Biden team, although the circumstances are significantly different and the political environment has shifted dramatically in the 25 years since then. Much as the Clinton White House did, the Biden White House has tried to separate its defense against Republican investigators from the day-to-day operations of the building, assigning Mr. Sams to respond mostly off camera to issues arising from the investigations rather than Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, during her televised briefings.
As in the late 1990s, the strategy now is to paint Republicans as rabid partisans only interested in attacking the president of the other party out of political or ideological motives in contrast to a commander in chief focused on issues of importance to everyday voters, like health care and the economy.