Eight new U.S. attorneys will be appointed by President Joe Biden, including the head of the office that prosecutes hundreds of defendants in the January 6 Insurrection at Capitol.
The White House announced Monday’s nominees as it continues to build its leadership team under Attorney Merrick Garland. Garland traveled to Chicago last week in order to announce an initiative to combat gun trafficking corridors. The Justice Department’s 93 U.S. Attorneys, who are responsible in their respective areas for federal criminal prosecutions, will likely be at the heart of efforts to combat violent crime.
Nominees for offices in Washington, Indiana, Maryland and Massachusetts would be elected by the Senate if they are confirmed. The Biden administration stated that most of the nominees would be historical firsts, including the first Black and female attorneys to lead their respective districts.
According to the White House, the eight were chosen for their dedication to enforcing law, professionalism, experience, credentials in this field and dedication to equal justice for all.
These lawyers are the first batch U.S. attorney nominations that the Biden White House has advanced. The White House is still trying to fill key Justice Department positions six months into its administration. Last week, the White House announced it would nominate an attorney to lead its antitrust division. However, it also withdrew its nominee as head of its civil division. The nomination for the key role of solicitor general has not been made.
Among the nominees announced Monday is Matthew Graves, a former fraud and public corruption prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in the District of Columbia who is being tapped to run that office at a time when it is consumed by hundreds of cases arising from the Capitol riot.
The Trump administration appointee who held the job during the riot, Michael Sherwin, has since left the Justice Department. The position has been held on an acting basis by Channing Phillips, who served in the same role during the Obama administration.
Rachael Rolleins, the Suffolk County district attorney, Massachusetts, would become the first Black woman to be elected U.S. Attorney in the state. The White House stated that Erek Barron (a current state lawmaker who served as a prosecutor as well as as a policy advisor to Biden on Senate Judiciary Committee) would be the District’s first Black U.S. Attorney.
Zachary Myers, a cyber-specializing federal prosecutor in Maryland, was also nominated. The White House said that he would be the first Black U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of Indiana. Clifford Johnson would be the first Black lawyer in the Northern District of Indiana, having spent nearly 35 years in this office.
The White House announced that Vanessa Waldref, a Justice Department environmental lawyer, would become the first woman to lead the U.S. Attorney’s Office in the Eastern District. Nicholas Brown, a former federal prosecutor and general attorney to the governor, will be the first Black lawyer in the Western District of Washington. It includes Seattle.
In February, the Justice Department announced that it would be seeking the resignations of all U.S. lawyers appointed under President Donald Trump’s administration. However, it did not remove David Weiss as the top federal prosecutor in Delaware. There, law enforcement officials are conducting a criminal tax investigation into Hunter Biden.
U.S. lawyers serve at the president’s discretion and are usually nominated by a senator from their home state. For instance, Trini Ross, a former federal prosecutor who is being nominated as U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York in Buffalo, was recommended for the job by the state’s senior senator, Charles Schumer.