Norman Eisen

Senior Fellow - Governance Studies

Ambassador Norman L. Eisen is a senior fellow in Governance Studies at Brookings, a CNN political commentator, and the chair of the government watchdog group CREW, which he co-founded in 2003. At Brookings, he has co-authored such reports as “The Emoluments Clause: Its Text, Meaning, and Application to Donald J. Trump,” “The Impact of Open Government,” and “Why Critics of Transparency are Wrong.”

Eisen served from January 2009 to January 2011 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.

Following his service in the White House, Eisen was 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: During his time at post, U.S.-Czech bilateral trade almost doubled.

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 Whitewater investigation, and the 2000 and 2004 presidential recounts. He was named one of Washington’s top lawyers by Washingtonian Magazine.

Eisen received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1991 and his B.A. from Brown University in 1985, both with honors. His book, “The Last Palace,” an account of the recurring struggle between democracy, communism, and fascism over the past one hundred years, is forthcoming from Penguin Random House. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Today, The Atlantic, Politico, The Guardian, Newsweekand many other publications in the United States and internationally. He has been profiled in The Washington Post, New York Magazine, Politico, The Wall Street Journal, and Tablet. He was named #11 on the Politico 50 list of thinkers shaping American politics in 2017. 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.”

202.797.6090 — GS
Global Governance & Politics
U.S. Politics & Government
Governance Studies
Current Positions
Chair and co-founder, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)
Political Commentator, CNN
Past Positions
U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic, 2011-2014
Special Assistant and Special Counsel to the President for Ethics and Government Reform, 2009-2011
Harvard Law School, 9/1988-6/1991, J.D, cum laude
Brown University, 9/1981-6/1985, A.B, magna cum laude