NewsHour: NewsHour Remembers White House Counsel Cutler and Lawyer John Pickering – May 9, 2005

JIM LEHRER: Finally tonight, remembering Lloyd Cutler, counselor to presidents. The Washington lawyer died yesterday at 87. I said he was 84 in the News Summary earlier. That was wrong.

We get some insight into Lloyd Cutler’s life and career from Stuart Taylor, columnist for the Legal Times and senior writer for National Journal Magazine. Back in 1977, Stuart was fresh out of law school and a new associate at Lloyd Cutler’s law firm here in Washington. He has since written often and extensively about Mr. Cutler. Welcome.

STUART TAYLOR: Nice to be here, Jim.

JIM LEHRER: What’s the most important thing all of us should know about Lloyd Cutler?

STUART TAYLOR: He was a great lawyer in a time when lawyers could be called great, not just slick or good and when great lawyers could also be great statesmen, when being a great Washington lawyer, a super lawyer, as he and others were called, meant serving the country not just serving a bunch of corporate clients. He served a bunch of corporate clients. The list goes on and on and he served them well.

But he also was in and out of government as you mentioned. He had jobs with six presidents. He worked across party lines. He was a democrat and not a conservative democrat, I’d say, a little bit liberal for a democrat. But he worked with Republicans all the time on all kinds of things and had their respect. In today’s Washington, I’m not sure anyone could do that.

But as you mentioned earlier, six presidents, his greatest headliners were president — he was counsel, White House counsel to each of our last two Democratic presidents, Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton. But he also served in commissions and various other capacities for the first President Bush, for President Reagan, for the second, the current President Bush. He was, when he died he was at least ex-officio a member of the commission investigating weapons of mass destruction.