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Former Counselor to Bill Barr Replaces U.S. Attorney in Texas Who Investigated Michael Flynn ‘Unmasking’


WASHINGTON, DC - APRIL 01: U.S. President Donald Trump arrives at the press briefing room flanked Attorney General William Barr and other administration officials April 1, 2020 in Washington, DC. After announcing yesterday that COVID-19 could kill between 100,000 and 240,000 Americans, the Trump administration is also contending with the economic effects of the outbreak as the stock market continues to fall, businesses remain closed, and companies lay off and furlough employees.

Attorney General Bill Barr announced on Monday that he was appointing his former counselor, Gregg Sofer, as the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas—a jurisdiction that spans from El Paso to Waco and includes Austin and San Antonio.

Sofer replaces John Bash as U.S. Attorney. Notably, Bash was “tapped” by Barr as recently as May to “support” John Durham in investigating the so-called “unmasking” of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn. Flynn’s criminal case is ongoing to this day despite DOJ’s motion to dismiss.

In a statement saying that he is leaving for a job in the private sector after eight years in the DOJ, Bash thanked everyone from President Donald Trump to Sen. Ted Cruz to former White House counsel Don McGahn for their support.

“Most importantly, I would not have succeeded in this demanding role without the love and support of my wife, Zina, my daughter and son, my parents, my wife’s parents and siblings, and of course the Lord,” Bash said, before calling his replacement an “inspired choice.”

Bash said that Aug. 3, 2019 targeted massacre of people of Mexican descent at a Walmart in El Paso, Texas was a “nightmare” and the hardest day he experienced on the job.

“Like any job, serving as U.S. Attorney has had its high points and its low points. No day was worse than August 3, 2019, when we lost so many of our fellow Americans and our Mexican brothers and sisters to an almost inconceivable act of hatred,” he said. “But there was nothing more soul-stirring than the way El Pasoans came together in the wake of that nightmare in a spirit of love and perseverance.”

Attorney General Barr said that Bash “successfully led one of the largest U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the country” for the last three years” and wished him “the very best.”

When introducing Sofer, the DOJ noted just how challenging a job this is:

As U.S. Attorney, Sofer will be the chief federal law enforcement officer in the Western District of Texas. He will be in charge of one of the largest U.S. Attorney’s Offices in the United States, overseeing approximately 300 total staff, including 150 Assistant U.S. Attorneys, and covering 93,000 square miles in 68 counties, with divisional offices in Alpine, Austin, Del Rio, El Paso, Midland, San Antonio, and Waco. The Western District of Texas regularly prosecutes more criminal cases than any other district in the United States and serves approximately 6.5 million Texans.

Barr said that his former counselor has been an “exceptional prosecutor for more than 29 years” and has the “leadership, integrity, and experience” to make an impact in Texas.

Sofer, a Texan, said in a statement that he looked forward to working with “state, local and federal law enforcement partners, for whom I have the utmost respect, as we continue to protect our communities and ensure that the rights of all of our citizens are safeguarded.” He also called Bash “one of the finest lawyers” he has “ever met.”

The DOJ summarized Sofer’s experience as follows:

Prior to his appointment, Sofer served as Counselor to the Attorney General of the United States, where he handled criminal and national security matters, as well as crisis response. Before coming to Main Justice, Sofer served for 12 years in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Texas. As an Assistant U.S. Attorney and accomplished litigator, he handled national security, fraud, violent crime, and corruption cases, among others. In 2018, Sofer was promoted to Chief of the Criminal Division. In that role, he was responsible for the supervision of over 120 Assistant U.S. Attorneys and all aspects of the district’s criminal practice. His last trial in Austin, Texas, a RICO prosecution, resulted in a life sentence without parole for a man who attempted to assassinate a state court judge as she sat in her car with her family.

From 2003 to 2007, Sofer was a trial attorney in the National Security Division at Main Justice where he led the investigation and prosecution of international terrorism cases. He also served as the Director of the Office of Justice for Victims of Overseas Terrorism and Director of the National Gang Targeting Enforcement and Coordination Center.

[Image via Win McNamee/Getty Images]

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Matt Naham is the Senior A.M. Editor of Law&Crime.