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The Good News

Submissions from around the Archdiocese

Tuesday, April 04, 2017

Former White House legal advisor captivates capacity crowd at MEF breakfast talk

By Brent Bridwell

Michael Scudder, former legal counsel to the National Security Council, speaks of his experiences in the White HouseMargaret Archibald

Michael Scudder, Jr., Midtown Education Foundation Board Member and former General Counsel of the National Security Council under George W. Bush, captivated a capacity crowd at his Skadden Arps breakfast presentation on March 30. Scudder pulled back the curtain to reveal happenings in the Oval Office during a tenuous time in American history.

Scudder took the position as Bush’s public approval ratings reached an all-time low, and was immediately thrust into high-profile cases. During this time, surveillance and national security were extremely controversial topics. In one instance, Bush and his staff wanted to move forward with a national security initiative. Scudder was tasked with determining the legality of the initiative, and after hours of consideration, found that there was no legal way to move forward. He was then asked him to start from scratch and try again.

Scudder did just that, only to come to the same conclusion. Describing his interaction with the President as “almost nose-to-nose,” Scudder reiterated his findings, to which the President replied, “Do you have any idea how much this upsets me?” Scudder meekly replied, “Yes sir, I do,” to which the President responded, “Ok then, we won’t do it.”

Scudder presented Bush as a man who respected the law in his decision-making. While acknowledging that Bush was not perfect, Scudder also empathized with the President as a man who had to quickly make major decisions to protect America from an enemy whose likes it had never faced before.

After Scudder’s riveting account, Michael Gray, from the Discover Financial Services legal department, spoke about Discover’s partnership with Midtown's Law Apprenticeship. Gray mentioned the reciprocal benefit of volunteering at Midtown: “The biggest impact that occurs, is the impact in your own heart. Midtown has a way to bring the best out of people, both students and volunteers alike.”

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