Cassandra Butts (Cassandra Quin Butts)

Cassandra Butts

During her time as Deputy White House Counsel, Cassandra Butts focused most on judicial nominations. Records later showed that in the days after Associate Justice David Souter announced his retirement from the U.S. Supreme Court, Butts was in frequent contact with President Obama’s eventual nominee to replace Souter, Sonia Sotomayor. Butts also had been rumored in February 2009 to be a candidate to lead the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She also previously had been rumored to be a candidate to serve as United States Secretary of Housing and Urban Development and as White House Staff Secretary. On November 6, 2009, Obama named Butts to serve as a Senior Advisor in the Office of the Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation. Butts’ departure was considered to be one of the highest-level departures up to that point from the office of the White House Counsel, and it was followed one week later by the announcement of the departure of Butts’ then-boss, White House Counsel Gregory Craig. On February 7, 2014, Cassandra Butts was nominated by President Obama to be United States Ambassador to the Bahamas. The Senate held a committee hearing on her nomination in May 2014, but took no action the rest of the year, and her nomination lapsed with the end of the 113th United States Congress.

With the new Congress, Obama renominated her to the post on February 5, 2015. The United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations reported her nomination to the full U.S. Senate on May 21, 2015. However, Cassandra Butts’ nomination was blocked by several Republican senators. First, Sen. Ted Cruz placed a blanket hold on all U.S. State Department nominees. Then, Sen. Tom Cotton specifically blocked the nominations of Butts and ambassador nominees to Sweden and Norway after the Secret Service had leaked private information about a fellow member of Congress, even though that issue was unrelated to those nominees. Cotton eventually released his holds on the nominees to Sweden and Norway, but kept his hold on Butts’ nomination. Butts told New York Times columnist Frank Bruni that she had gone to see Cotton about his objections to her nomination, and Cotton explained to her that because he knew that the president and Butts were friends, it was a way to “inflict special pain on the president,” Bruni wrote. Cotton’s spokeswoman did not dispute Butts’ characterization, but stressed that Cotton had respect for her and her career. Cassandra Butts died in May 2016, still waiting for a confirmation vote. And even after Butts’ death, her nomination remains pending before the U.S. Senate on its executive calendar.

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  • August, 10, 1965
  • USA
  • New York, New York


  • May, 26, 2016
  • USA
  • Washington D.C.

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