Donald B. Ayer

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Donald B. Ayer
24th United States Deputy Attorney General
In office
1989 – May 1990
PresidentGeorge H. W. Bush
Preceded byHarold G. Christensen
Succeeded byWilliam P. Barr
United States Attorney for the Eastern District of California
In office
PresidentRonald Reagan
Preceded byFrancis M. Goldsberry II[1]
Succeeded byPeter A. Nowinski
Personal details
Born (1949-04-30) April 30, 1949 (age 70)
San Mateo, California
Political partyIndependent
Spouse(s)Anne Norton
Alma materStanford University
Harvard University

Donald Belton Ayer (born April 30, 1949[2]) is the former United States Deputy Attorney General from 1989 to May 1990, under Republican President George H.W. Bush.[3]

Education and career[edit]

Ayer graduated from Stanford University with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1971, with great distinction. In 1973, he graduated from Harvard University with a Master of Arts in American History, and received his J.D. from Harvard Law School in 1975.[4] He clerked for Judge Malcolm Richard Wilkey of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, followed by a year with Associate Justice William Rehnquist of the U.S. Supreme Court during the 1976 Term.

From 1977 to 1980, Ayer served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of California. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan nominated Ayer as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of California, and he held that position from 1981 to 1986. From 1986 to 1988, he served as Principal Deputy Solicitor General of the United States, and as Deputy Attorney General from 1989 until May 1990, when he was succeeded by William Barr.[5][6]

Ayer entered private practice after leaving government service, and is currently a partner at Jones Day.[4]

In a June 2019 Atlantic article entitled "Why Bill Barr Is So Dangerous," Ayer wrote of Bill Barr, then the attorney general and Ayer's successor as deputy attorney general in 1990, that "the primary effect of Barr’s conduct to date has indeed been to befuddle and mislead, and create a public misimpression, for those who have not read Mueller’s report, that [President Trump] may not have interfered with the investigation," but that, "a careful review of Barr’s conduct suggests that his mission is far more grandiose that just misleading people about the facts," adding, “in Barr’s view, the only check on gross misconduct by the president is impeachment, and the very idea of an independent or special counsel investigating the president is a constitutional anathema."[7]

Personal life[edit]

Ayer has a wife, Anne, and two children.


  1. ^ "The Political Graveyard: U.S. District Attorneys in California".
  2. ^ "Donald Ayer Birth Records". Retrieved June 9, 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  3. ^ "Donald B. Ayer Faculty Bio". Georgetown University Law Center. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  4. ^ a b "Jones Day – Donald B. Ayer". Jones Day. Retrieved June 9, 2015.
  5. ^ "Donald B. Ayer". FindLaw. Retrieved June 9, 2015. Italic or bold markup not allowed in: |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ "Thornburgh Denies Shielding Aide : Justice Dept.: The attorney general says he didn't try to hide the official's failure of a lie detector test". Los Angeles Times. May 21, 1990. Retrieved April 4, 2017.
  7. ^ Ayer, Donald (June 30, 2019). "Why Bill Barr Is So Dangerous". The Atlantic.

Selected writings[edit]