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Norman Eisen

Senior Fellow - Governance Studies

Ambassador (ret.) Norman Eisen is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings. He is a globally-recognized authority on law, ethics, and anti-corruption. He most recently served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee from 2019 to 2020, including for the impeachment and trial of President Trump, and was a “critical force in building the case for impeachment” (Washington Post).

At Brookings, Eisen has authored such reports as “The Emoluments Clause,” “Presidential Obstruction of Justice,” and “The Democracy Playbook." He is the project chair of Leveraging Transparency to Reduce Corruption, a research initiative pioneering best practices in transparency and accountability to fight corruption in the natural resource value chain. He also co-chairs the Transatlantic Democracy Working Group.

Eisen is the author of The Last Palace: Europe’s Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House (Crown 2018), praised as “fascinating” (Washington Post), “captivating” (Economist), and “very pleasurable historical reading” (Wall Street Journal). His forthcoming volume, Democracy’s Defenders: U.S. Embassy Prague, The Fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia, and Its Aftermath, will be published by Brookings Institution Press in April 2020.

Eisen served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2011 to 2014. He helped develop innovative anti-corruption and transparency strategies in cooperation with U.S. and Czech law enforcement and other stakeholders. Eisen also helped advance U.S.-Czech security and defense initiatives and deepened economic ties between the two nations.

From January 2009 to January 2011, Eisen worked in the White House as special counsel and special assistant to the president for ethics and government reform. The press dubbed him “Mr. No” and the "Ethics Czar" for his tough anti-corruption approach. He also advised President Obama on lobbying regulation, campaign finance law, and open government issues, helping to assure the most scandal-free White House in modern history.

Before government service, Eisen was a partner in the D.C. law firm Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, where he specialized in litigation and investigations. His cases included Enron, the ADM antitrust case, the subprime financial collapse, the Monica Lewinsky matter and the 2000 and 2004 presidential recounts. He was named one of DC’s top lawyers by Washingtonian.

Eisen received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1991 and his B.A. from Brown University in 1985, both with honors. He has been profiled in The Washington PostNew York MagazinePoliticoThe Wall Street Journal, and Tablet. He was named to the Politico 50 list of thinkers shaping American politics, and to the Forward 50 list of American Jews. His writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostUSA TodayThe AtlanticPoliticoand many other publications in the United States and internationally. He is the founder and former board chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and a former CNN commentator. Eisen was credited by director Wes Anderson as an inspiration for the character of the crusading lawyer Deputy Kovacs in the 2014 film “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

Ambassador (ret.) Norman Eisen is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings. He is a globally-recognized authority on law, ethics, and anti-corruption. He most recently served as special counsel to the House Judiciary Committee from 2019 to 2020, including for the impeachment and trial of President Trump, and was a “critical force in building the case for impeachment” (Washington Post).

At Brookings, Eisen has authored such reports as “The Emoluments Clause,” “Presidential Obstruction of Justice,” and “The Democracy Playbook.” He is the project chair of Leveraging Transparency to Reduce Corruption, a research initiative pioneering best practices in transparency and accountability to fight corruption in the natural resource value chain. He also co-chairs the Transatlantic Democracy Working Group.

Eisen is the author of The Last Palace: Europe’s Turbulent Century in Five Lives and One Legendary House (Crown 2018), praised as “fascinating” (Washington Post), “captivating” (Economist), and “very pleasurable historical reading” (Wall Street Journal). His forthcoming volume, Democracy’s Defenders: U.S. Embassy Prague, The Fall of Communism in Czechoslovakia, and Its Aftermath, will be published by Brookings Institution Press in April 2020.

Eisen served as the U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic from 2011 to 2014. He helped develop innovative anti-corruption and transparency strategies in cooperation with U.S. and Czech law enforcement and other stakeholders. Eisen also helped advance U.S.-Czech security and defense initiatives and deepened economic ties between the two nations.

From January 2009 to January 2011, Eisen worked in the White House as special counsel and special assistant to the president for ethics and government reform. The press dubbed him “Mr. No” and the “Ethics Czar” for his tough anti-corruption approach. He also advised President Obama on lobbying regulation, campaign finance law, and open government issues, helping to assure the most scandal-free White House in modern history.

Before government service, Eisen was a partner in the D.C. law firm Zuckerman Spaeder LLP, where he specialized in litigation and investigations. His cases included Enron, the ADM antitrust case, the subprime financial collapse, the Monica Lewinsky matter and the 2000 and 2004 presidential recounts. He was named one of DC’s top lawyers by Washingtonian.

Eisen received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1991 and his B.A. from Brown University in 1985, both with honors. He has been profiled in The Washington PostNew York MagazinePoliticoThe Wall Street Journal, and Tablet. He was named to the Politico 50 list of thinkers shaping American politics, and to the Forward 50 list of American Jews. His writing has appeared in The New York TimesThe Washington PostUSA TodayThe AtlanticPoliticoand many other publications in the United States and internationally. He is the founder and former board chair of Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, and a former CNN commentator. Eisen was credited by director Wes Anderson as an inspiration for the character of the crusading lawyer Deputy Kovacs in the 2014 film “The Grand Budapest Hotel.”

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