Police say that a former White House lawyer who worked with both President Bushes tried to kill his wife. Along with trying to strangle her, he allegedly "beat her with a metal flashlight until she lost consciousness," according to the affidavit quoted in multiple reports.

"John Michael Farren, 57, of New Canaan, was charged with attempted murder and first-degree strangulation after police received a panic alarm from his home shortly after 10 p.m.," Connecticut's NewsTimes reports. "Farren was arraigned in state Superior Court in Norwalk Thursday. He appeared in court with a large bandage on the right side of his neck and has been placed on suicide watch."

The report adds, "Farren has served as general counsel and vice president of external affairs for Norwalk-based Xerox Corp. and served as Under Secretary of Commerce for International Trade under President George H.W. Bush and in the White House counsel's office under President George W. Bush."

Wall Street Journal law blogger Ashby Jones notes,

White House lawyers go on to do a lot of things. The become highly-paid partners at Washington law firms. They go to think tanks. They, like Fred Fielding, reemerge to serve as White House Counsel again. They write memoirs.

John Michael Farren, a lawyer in the Bush (II) White House, might be on his way to doing any of those things. But for now he’s got an issue. A potentially big issue. Farren was charged Thursday with strangulation and attempted murder. Connecticut authorities are claiming that he tried to kill his wife at their Connecticut home by beating her with a flashlight and strangling her.

The Associated Press adds, "An arrest affidavit says the attack occurred after Mary Farren delivered divorce papers Monday. Police say she passed out during the attack Wednesday night at their New Canaan home and later fled with her children."

According to the AP, "She is stable at a hospital with a broken nose, broken jaw and other injuries."

A Washington Post graph indicates that Farren earned $158,500 in 2008 for his White House salary.

In a 1992 Legal Times profile, Farren was described as "a rising star in the Bush administration" until his "stock" plummeted.

But now, due to his energetic role in several highly charged trade issues, Farren’s stock at the White House is falling. “It’s almost as if he was deliberately trying to manufacture unnecessary political controversies,” says one presidential aide.

Farren, whose decisions affect key sectors of the American economy, supervises a small army of bureaucrats who are charged with protecting troubled U.S. companies from unfair trade practices. Farren’s troops administer anti-dumping and countervailing-duty laws, as well as import restrictions affecting steel, semiconductors, machine tools, lumber, and automobiles.


Farren, who had resigned as deputy undersecretary of trade in 1988 to work on George Bush’s presidential campaign, was considered a seasoned political operative capable of giving sound advice.

But the Tokyo trip proved disastrous and, more than any other episode, spawned the stories of White House disarray on trade issues that continue to dog President Bush’s re-election effort--and undermine Farren’s clout inside the administration.