Secretary Jeh Johnson
Member, CNAS Board of Directors
Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton, and Garrison, LLP
Jeh Johnson is the former U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security. He served in that position from December 2013 to January 2017. Following that, Johnson has returned to private law practice at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP. Johnson has been affiliated with Paul, Weiss on and off since 1984, and became the firm’s first African American partner in 1994. Johnson is also currently on the board of directors of PG&E Corporation, headquartered in San Francisco, and a non-resident Senior Fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School.
Secretary Johnson’s career has been a mixture of public service and private corporate law practice; he has served in three presidentially appointed Senate-confirmed positions.
As Secretary of Homeland Security, Johnson was the head of the third largest cabinet department of the U.S. government, consisting of 230,000 personnel and 22 components, including TSA, Customs and Border Protection, Immigration and Customs Services, U.S Citizenship and Immigration Services, the Coast Guard, the Secret Service, and FEMA. Johnson's responsibilities as Secretary included counterterrorism, cybersecurity, aviation security, border security, port security, maritime security, protection of our national leaders, the detection of chemical, biological and nuclear threats to the homeland, and response to natural disasters.
Prior to becoming Secretary of Homeland Security, Johnson was General Counsel of the Department of Defense (2009-2012). In that position, Johnson is credited with being the legal architect for the U.S. military’s counterterrorism efforts in the Obama Administration. In 2010, Johnson also co-authored the report that paved the way for the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell by Congress later that year.
In October 1998, Johnson was appointed by President Clinton to be General Counsel of the Department of the Air Force, and served in that position until January 2001. Earlier in his career, Johnson was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York (1989-1991).
Johnson is a Fellow in the American College of Trial Lawyers and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations. He is a graduate of Morehouse College (1979) and Columbia Law School (1982), and the recipient of nine honorary degrees.