George J. Terwilliger III

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George J. Terwilliger III is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of White & Case LLP, an international law firm.[1][2]

It was reported October 10, 2007, that Terwilliger, a "white-collar crime defense attorney", had been hired by former Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales "to represent him in investigations of mismanagement" of the U.S. Department of Justice. "Investigators are look[ing] into allegations that Gonzales lied to lawmakers and illegally allowed politics to influence hiring and firing at the department."[3]

Interestingly, on April 10, 2007, Terwilliger served as a panelist for the Brookings Institution Judicial Issues Forum entitled "Politics and the Justice Department: Finding a Path to Accountability".[4]

On August 27, 2007, Terwilliger was listed among the "Top Contenders"[5] to replace Gonzales, "whose tenure has been marred by controversy and accusations of perjury before Congress". Gonzales resigned August 27, 2007,[6] and left office on September 17, 2007.[7][8]



Terwilliger, Deputy Attorney General under Edwin Meese, is described as having "acted as the Political Liability Suppression Officer for the Department of Justice in the post-Iran-Contra environment. Terwilliger, in concert with his Lowell Jensen (now Federal District Judge Lowell Jensen) acted to suppress or manipulate Iran-Contra prosecutions in sensitive jurisdictions, particularly in Miami to ensure that no government connection would be mentioned."[9]

In a February 6, 2001, appearance on CNN about Ronald Reagan's "Legal Legacy",[10] after being asked about "lying to Congress", Terwilliger said:

"... one of the things that I found very bothersome about Iran-Contra was that some of the prosecutions for false statements involved false statements that were made in unrecorded interviews with investigators, not in sworn testimony under oath ....
"But whether or not there was substantive violation of law in Iran-Contra surrounding this policy dispute was never really adjudicated: Nobody was ever charged with that crime ...[11]
"But the bottom line is that whether or not there was a violation of law, substantively it was problematic. And the fact that people were hounded, pursued, over alleged false statements, I mean, do we hear an echo here to the complaints from the left and from Democrats about an independent counsel hounding somebody for... "

2000 Florida recount

During the Florida 2000 election recount, Terwilliger led Republican President-elect George W. Bush's legal team[12] and was "an advisor to the Bush-Cheney Transition and counselor to designated cabinet and other prospective appointees."[1]

Candidate for FBI director

In June 2001, Bush administration spokesman Ari Fleischer was asked in a White House press briefing whether Terwilliger was a leading candidate to head the FBI.[13]

2002 Jeb Bush election team

In November 2002, again on behalf of the Republican Party, Terwilliger led a "team of 350 lawyers to handle any possible courtroom battles" following the election of President Bush's brother, Jeb Bush, as Governor of Florida.[14]

Americans for a Better Country

In 2003, Terwilliger co-founded the 527 committee Americans for a Better Country with Frank J. Donatelli, former Ronald Reagan White House political director and secretary and treasurer of the Young America's Foundation[15] and Craig Shirley, president and CEO of Shirley & Banister Public Affairs.[16]


In August 2005, Terwilliger was a lawyer for Tyco International during the lead up to the trial of convicted "superlobbyist" Jack Abramoff.[17][18]

Abramoff "gave his client Tyco International an early warning in 2003 that the government was about to suspend Tyco's federal contracts—inside information he received from a General Services Administration official ... Terwilliger said that Abramoff's "tip was of substantial benefit to Tyco but was unsolicited."[19]


A former U.S. Attorney for Vermont and Deputy U.S. Attorney General (1991-93) in the George H.W. Bush administration, Terwilliger "specialized in white-collar crime and terrorism."[20]

Terwilliger "briefly took the helm of the Justice Department as acting attorney general after the departure of former Attorney General William Barr in 1993."[21]

"Highlights of this service include his leadership in resolving matters such as BCCI, an international banking scandal, environmental cases, antitrust merger reviews and enforcement matters, civil rights and voting cases as well as terrorism and national security cases. Mr. Terwilliger was also in charge of all Justice Department operations, including crisis response, such as the civil unrest in Los Angeles in 1992. On policy matters, he was a principal in the highest councils of government charged with addressing the broad array of legal policy issues arising in the Executive Branch."[1]


Presidential nomination: 1992

Terwilliger, of Vermont, was nominated[23] February 14, 1992, by President George H.W. Bush to be Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice. He would succeed William Pelham Barr.

At the time of his nomination, Terwilliger was serving as "Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice in Washington, DC. Prior to this, he served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Vermont, 1986-1990; First Assistant U.S. Attorney for Vermont, 1986; and Assistant U.S. Attorney in Vermont, 1981-1986. From 1978 to 1981, Mr. Terwilliger served as Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia.

"Mr. Terwilliger graduated from Seton Hall University (B.A., 1973) and Antioch School of Law (J.D., 1978). He was born June 5, 1950, in New Brunswick, NJ. Mr. Terwilliger is married, has three children, and resides in Oakton, VA."[23]

Contact information

701 Thirteenth Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: 202 626-3600
FAX: 202 639-9355


Related SourceWatch articles


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Attorney: George J. Terwilliger III,
  2. Steering Committee: Terwilliger,
  3. Lara Jakes Jordan, "Alberto Gonzales Hires Defense Attorney," Associated Press (, October 11, 2007.
  4. Judicial Issues Forum: "Politics and the Justice Department: Finding a Path to Accountability," Brookings Institution, April 10, 2007.
  5. "5 Top Contenders for Attorney General," NewsMax, August 28, 2007.
  6. Gonzales' resignation letter dated August 26, 2007, posted by TPMmuckraker, August 27, 2007.
  7. Pierre Thomas, et al., "Attorney General Gonzales Resigns," ABC News, August 27, 2007.
  8. "Gonzales Resigns," Think Progress, August 27, 2007.
  9. "Removal of the Bush administration,'
  10. Transcript: "Burden of Proof. Ronald Reagan's Legal Legacy," CNN, February 6, 2001.
  11. Note: Oliver North's conviction was overturned.
  12. Transcript: Saturday Morning News: "Florida Court Prepares for Historic Hearing," CNN, December 2, 2000.
  13. Russell Mokhiber, Excerpt: "Ari & I. White House Press Briefing with Ari Fleischer," June 19, 2001, posted by Common Dreams.
  14. Steve Bousquet, "GOP had election lawyers poised," St. Petersburg Times (Fla.), November 10, 2002.
  15. Frank Donatelli, "Reagan's Many Contributions Live On," Human Events Online, June 6, 2005.
  16. 527 Committees: Americans for a Better Country,
  17. Michael Isikoff, "Abramoff: More Trouble Ahead?" Newsweek/MSNBC, August 22, 2005.
  18. Neil A. Lewis, "Official Tipped Abramoff on Client's Case, Filing Says," New York Times, January 29, 2006.
  19. "Get off! Abramoff," Gandharv Ashram, undated.
  20. Profile: George Terwilliger, CNN, undated.
  21. "FACTBOX: Who replaces Gonzales? Bush has options," Reuters, August 28, 2007.
  22. Meeting of the National Gambling Impact Study Commission, October 31, 1997.
  23. 23.0 23.1 Nominations, Bush Library, February 14, 1992.

External articles

External resources