Michelle Robinson, the future first lady of the United States, may have dated Treasury Department Inspector General J. Russell George at Harvard Law School, a new report claims.
J. Russell George, 49, has testified in two congressional hearings about the IRS’s unethical targeting of conservative organizations with special scrutiny after they applied for tax-exempt status.
The revelation of a previous link to Michelle Obama came in a lengthy interview with J. Russell George – published a week after the IRS scandal was brought to light.
Michelle Obama has never spoken publicly about her boyfriends during the years before she met Barack Obama – the future president – at a Chicago law firm where they were both associates.
J. Russell George and Michelle Obama, then Michelle Robinson, graduated together from the university in 1988.
He told the National Journal that the two shared social circles at Harvard, and were both active in the Black Law Students Association.
But Virginia Republican Rep Tom Davis, who worked with J. Russell George as staff director of the House Oversight committee in the late 1990s and early 200s – the same committee that questioned George on Wednesday, said the relationship was more than just friendly.
“I think he actually dated Michelle at one point,” Tom Davis told National Journal.
Pressed about his purported love interest from a quarter-century ago, J. Russell George said that conclusion “is overstating it”.
“Michelle was a lovely person, and down to earth,” he said, recalling times when Black Law Student Association members “went out for pizza; we would go out together”.
“Don’t get me in trouble,” J. Russell George told the Washington newspaper, after “pausing for a beat”.
From Harvard, the future Michelle Obama got a job at a law firm in Chicago, one of just 14 black lawyers in an office of hundreds.
It is at that firm of Sidley & Austin that she met Barack Obama, who arrived as a summer associate in 1988.
For their first date in 1989, Barack Obama took her to the Art Institute of Chicago and to see the Spike Lee film Do the Right Thing.
After stopping for ice cream at Baskin-Robbins, the two shared their first kiss. A plaque now marks the location.
Barack and Michelle Obama married in 1992 at the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago.
J. Russell George, who was born in New York City, attended Harvard Law in between stints working for then-Senator Bob Dole of Kansas and serving in the administration of President George H.W. Bush, both Republicans.
In 1995, he returned to Washington for good after he took a job at Committee on Government Reform, among other high-profile positions in government.
J. Russell George was appointed by President George W. Bush to serve as inspector general of the Corporation for National and Community Service before moving on to his current post in 2004.
Michelle Obama’s time at the prestigious Cambridge, Massachusetts law school put her squarely in the middle of the nationwide debates raging about race politics in the 1980s.
During her final year at Harvard, Michelle Robinson wrote an article for the Black Law Students Association’s newsletter in which she argued that the school was perpetuating “racist and sexist stereotypes” because it wasn’t hiring enough minority law professors based on the color of their skin.
The Daily Caller first reported on the essay, in which Michelle Robinson wrote that hiring on the sole basis of merit, instead of recruiting according to affirmative-action principles, “serve[d] to legitimize students” tendencies to distrust certain types of teaching that do not resemble the traditional images’ of law school.
The future first lady lauded the teaching styles of liberal academics Martha Minow and Charles Ogletree, who ignored the traditional question-and-answer “Socratic method” in favor of other habits.
She also praised critical race theory, the idea that powerful groups of people – including Caucasians – use the law as an instrument to oppress the powerless, including blacks.
Michelle Obama also wrote a message for the Harvard Law School’s yearbook in which she called for greater civility in American society.
“After three years,” wrote the graduating lawyer-to-be.
“I continue to be struck by the tremendous talent and energy among HLS students and faculty.
“The diversity of campus life challenges all of us to question our assumptions, listen to other viewpoints, and articulate our values in a spirit of mutual respect and tolerance.”