The Daily Beast reported at 6 PM that NAFUSA member Robert Mueller will serve as special counsel to oversee the FBI’s investigation of the Russian government’s efforts to influence the 2016 presidential election. The decision was made by Deputy AG Rod Rosenstein, due to Attorney General Jeff Sessions recusal.
The investigation will also examine ‘related matters,’ according to the release–indicating Mueller will look at possible collusion between Trump campaign officials and the Russian government.
Mueller will have the power to bring in staff from outside the Justice Department to help with the investigation, and will have all the authority of a U.S. Attorney. He will also be able to request a budget for the investigation, which Rosenstein will ultimately approve.
‘In my capacity as acting Attorney General, I determined that it is in the public interest for me to exercise my authority and appoint a special counsel to assume responsibility for this matter,’ he said in a statement. ‘My decision is not a finding that crimes have been committed or that any prosecution is warranted.’
‘What I have determined is that based upon the unique circumstances, the public interest requires me to place this investigation under the authority of a person who exercises a degree of independence from the normal chain of command.’
On Monday, March 6, 2017, a letter was submitted to the Senate Judiciary Committee, signed by 136 former United States Attorneys, (including many NAFUSA members) supporting the Rosenstein nomination to be Deputy Attorney General. Click here to review the letter and a full list of signatories: Rosenstein Support Letter
As former U.S. Attorneys, we are in a special position to evaluate the qualifications of one of our own to serve as our nation’s Deputy Attorney General, and we know the important characteristics it takes to serve effectively in that position. It requires a tireless work ethic, unassailable integrity, careful legal thinking, and prudent judgment. These are qualities Mr. Rosenstein possesses in abundance. Many of us served alongside Rod, know him personally, and can vouch for his outstanding reputation—both as a fair and extraordinarily effective prosecutor, and as a person of the highest integrity.
Rod’s record of achievement demonstrates those traits. He graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, with a B.S. in Economics, summa cum laude, and earned his J.D. cum laude from Harvard Law School, where he was an editor of the Harvard Law Review. He then served as a law clerk to Judge Douglas H. Ginsburg of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. After his clerkship, Rod joined the Justice Department through the Attorney General’s Honors Program. Since that time, he has served in a variety of significant positions, including a trial attorney with the Public Integrity Section of the Criminal Division, Counsel to Deputy Attorney General and Special Assistant to the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division, Assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General for the Tax Division, and as United States Attorney for the District of Maryland. Rod has seen it all and done it all, and knows intimately the workings of the Department, its duties, its powers, and its bounds.
His lengthy tenure also demonstrates his commitment to public service. He has now served as U.S. Attorney for almost 12 years, under three presidents—a remarkable tour of duty that is far longer than typical. At any time Mr. Rosenstein could have left his position as U.S. Attorney for a lucrative career in the private sector. That he is one of the very few who did not is, perhaps, the strongest testament to his devotion to public service.
Finally, Mr. Rosenstein’s record demonstrates his integrity and independence. He has served as an Associate Independent Counsel, investigated White House officials, prosecute public-corruption cases, and relentlessly pursued every kind of fraud and malfeasance, regardless of the party in power. He epitomizes the ideal DOJ lawyer with his outstanding record of honesty, decency, good judgment and hard work. We have no doubt he will exercise this sound judgment in the role of Deputy Attorney General and fulfill his duties with the utmost propriety and care.
Rosenstein’s confirmation hearings continue.
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta
Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked for the resignations of the remaining 46 U.S. Attorneys appointed by President Obama who have not already left office “in order to ensure a uniform transition,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said on Friday.
“Until the new U.S. attorneys are confirmed, the dedicated career prosecutors in our U.S. attorney’s offices will continue the great work of the department in investigating, prosecuting and deterring the most violent offenders,” she said in a statement.
Rod J. Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney in Baltimore, has been nominated to be the Deputy Attorney General. Rosenstein, 52, is the sole holdover U.S. attorney from the George W. Bush administration who is still in office. He is the longest-serving U.S. Attorney in the nation, having been confirmed for the District of Maryland in 2005. If confirmed, he will continue the recent trend of former U.S. Attorneys elevated to the posts of Attorney General (Holder, Lynch and Sessions) and Deputy AG (Yates, Rosenstein).
Rosenstein, a Harvard law graduate, joined the Justice Department in 1990 as a trial attorney in the criminal division’s public integrity section.
Politico reported last last evening that Trump will allow U.S. attorneys to stay past Friday
President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team has told chief federal prosecutors around the country that they can stay on for some time past Inauguration Day, a Justice Department spokesman said Tuesday night.
“Currently serving U.S. Attorneys and U.S. Marshals were informed today that they are able to stay in place after January 20th while the process for identifying and confirming successors is further determined,” Justice spokesman Wyn Hornbuckle said.
The Justice Department also announced that while Attorney General Loretta Lynch will leave her post on Friday, Deputy Attorney General Sally Q. Yates has agreed to serve as Acting Attorney General until a successor has been confirmed by the Senate.
In today’s Boston Globe, NAFUSA member Don Stern posts Some questions for Sessions. The confirmation for Senator Sessions is scheduled to begin today before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Stern suggests some questions the Committee should ask and the answers he believes would be the appropriate responses.
…the core role of the attorney general — as the nation’s highest-ranking lawyer and prosecutor, and as the protector of the integrity of the Department of Justice — should not be ignored. This means that the attorney general must ensure that the Justice Department remains free of politics, insists on the highest ethical standards, and makes decisions based soley on the facts and the law. While the attorney general is appointed by the president, he or she is not the president’s lawyer.
Sen. Jeff Sessions talks to reporters at Trump Tower (Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images)
In a letter date January 3, 2017, to Senators Grassley, Leahy and Feinstein, 112 former United States Attorneys, most of them members of NAFUSA, urged the Senate Committee on the Judiciary to support the confirmation of Senator Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States. Click here to view letter and list of signatories: usa-ltr-sessions-2
As former U.S. Attorneys, we are in a unique position to evaluate the qualifications of Senator Sessions to serve as our nation’s Attorney General. United States Attorneys are the top- ranking federal law-enforcement officials of their jurisdictions, tasked with setting enforcement priorities, building trust with the communities they serve, and protecting the public while respecting federalism, the separation of powers, and the individual rights enshrined in the Constitution. It is not an easy job, but it is one in which Senator Sessions excelled.
Senator Sessions’ record reflects his priorities clearly, and none of his work as U.S. Attorney was more impactful than his sustained effort to eliminate segregation in rural Alabama and break the back of the Alabama Klan. In addition to bringing and supporting civil rights cases to fight against voter suppression and school segregation, Senator Sessions supported the investigation into the brutal murder of an African American teenager, Michael Donald. His efforts, in coordination with state authorities, ensured that the perpetrator – the son of the Alabama Klan’s leader – received a capital sentence. Sessions’ office also prosecuted an accomplice in that case, who pled guilty and received a life sentence, the maximum penalty available in federal court at the time. These successful prosecutions helped the victim’s mother win a $7 million lawsuit against the Klan, effectively crippling it as a political organization within Alabama.
Senator Sessions served for a remarkable twelve years as U.S. Attorney. His lengthy tenure alone is impressive given the burdens of the job, which we well know. Senator Sessions’ conspicuous service to the law and all citizens has continued as a United States Senator. In his work as a leader on the Senate Judiciary Committee, he has espoused a consistent understanding of the Constitution, a commitment to the rule of law, and an unwavering respect for the mission of the Department of Justice.
During his 41 years of public service, Senator Sessions has proved to be a leader of strong principles and firm beliefs. His support for the 25-year extension of the Civil Rights Act in 2006 is evidence of this. He also has proved to be a leader who appreciates positions that differ from his own and who learns from the scrutiny that comes with public life. His openness to different thinking and other worldviews is evidenced by the recent statements in support of his nomination from colleagues across the political spectrum and his support for Eric Holder’s nomination as Attorney General in 2009.
As former U.S. Attorneys, we worked with and for many Attorneys General, each different, each with his or her own unique strengths. We have no doubt that Senator Sessions can do the job well, bringing to this critically important office his own unique and extraordinary strengths of courage, humility, experience, and an inviolable promise to treat all people equally under the law.
Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch announced today that the Justice Department Collects More Than $15.3 Billion in Civil and Criminal Cases in Fiscal Year 2016. This total represents more than five times the approximately $3 billion appropriated budget for the 94 U.S. Attorneys’ offices and the main litigating divisions of DOJ combined in that same period. The largest settlements derived from cases related to the financial crisis. The total includes all monies collected as a result of Justice Department-led enforcement actions and negotiated civil settlements. Of the total, more than $12 billion was paid directly to DOJ and the remainder to other federal agencies, states and other designated recipients.
Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell raised some eyebrows with her comments last week at a panel discussion at the Federalist Society. She expressed concern about the wide variety of the “quality of the lawyers” at U.S. Attorney’s offices and claimed that Criminal Division attorneys get “far more robust” training than attorneys in the field.
But today The Wall Street Journal reported that Caldwell has sent a “Dear Friends and Colleague” letter to all U.S. Attorney’s offices apologizing profusely for her remarks at the Federal Society event:
I did not have prepared remarks for the event, and I certainly should have. Instead, I overreacted to the criticisms—which I strongly believe were not an accurate reflection of the Department’s work—by defending the Department in a way that inappropriately suggested that the care taken by U.S. Attorney’s Offices and others in making prosecutorial decisions was less than that taken by attorneys in the Criminal Division. And by making unscripted references to isolated issues in my recent experience, I realize that, rather than defending the reputation of the entire Department, I appeared to be criticizing U.S. Attorney’s Offices, Assistant U.S. Attorneys and other components. I deeply regret my remarks and the genuine hurt that they have caused. As a federal prosecutor for 19 years, including 16 years as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in two different districts, I know better.
Click here to review The Wall Street Journal Law Blog “Justice Department’s Crime Chief Apologizes for Put-Down of Colleagues and letter of apology: wsj-article-and-letter-of-apology