Pete Williams is getting ready to sign off from NBC News after a nearly three-decade-long career. Before he goes, however, he may just have to report on one of the most consequential national stories in recent memory.
Williams, who has covered the U.S. Department of Justice and the Supreme Court for NBC for 29 years, is set to depart the Comcast unit after July, according to a memo issued by NBC News President Noah Oppenheim. That would likely leave Williams in position when the Court hands down what is expected to be a much-scrutinized decision on the legal standing of Roe vs Wade and the right of a woman to have access to medical help to terminate a pregnancy. A draft of a decision around a current case considering the issue was disclosed by Politico earlier this month and a final decision on the matter could come between now and the end of June.
“Pete has been one of the nation’s foremost authorities covering the Supreme Court and the Department of Justice for nearly three decades. His career has been defined by his reputation for accuracy, reliability, and unmatched expertise in the subjects he covers,” Oppenheim told NBC News staffers. “From the most consequential Supreme Court cases of our time – like marriage equality and the legal battles over the Affordable Care Act – to major breaking news events – like 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, and so much more – Pete’s reporting has always been ironclad. His ability to break down the most complex and fast-developing situations is uncanny.”
Williams’ decision to retire was previously reported by The Washington Post.
He has enjoyed a unique career, logging a stint as a senior public-affairs official for the U.S. government before returning to journalism. Before joining NBC News in 1993, Williams worked as a Capitol Hill communications executive. In 1986 he joined the Washington, DC staff of then-Congressman Dick Cheney as press secretary and a legislative assistant. When Cheney was named Assistant Secretary of Defense in 1989, Williams was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.
But he has been watching top courts for years. Between 1974 and 1985, Williams was a reporter and news director at KTWO in Casper. Working with the Radio-Television News Directors Association, for which he served as a member of its board of directors, he successfully lobbied the Wyoming Supreme Court to permit broadcast coverage of its proceedings and twice sued Wyoming judges over pre-trial exclusion of reporters from the courtroom.
“There are too many scoops, firsts, exclusives, and interviews to count: Pete breaking the news of Justice Breyer’s retirement; his reporting on the January 6th investigation; his poignant remarks on the steps of the U.S. Capitol for Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s funeral; and his interviews with FBI Director Christopher Wray and former Attorney General Bill Barr,” Oppenheim said. Before Williams retires, he may have time for a few more.
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