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President Biden Announces Eight Nominees for U.S. Attorney, Including a New Top Prosecutor for the U.S. Capitol Breach Docket


President Biden addresses Congress, with Nancy Pelosi on his left and Vice President Kamala Harris at his right

President Joe Biden announced eight nominees on Monday to serve as U.S. Attorneys, including a pick with unassailable non-partisan bona fides to steer the U.S. Capitol breach docket.

Matthew Graves, who has been a partner at the Washington, D.C. office of the powerhouse law firm DLA Piper since 2016, previously secured a guilty plea from ex-Rep. Jesse Jackson, Jr. (D-Ill.) for misuse of campaign funds when he was an assistant U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia. Jackson is the son of political activist Jesse Jackson and served as a national co-chairman of Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.

On Monday, Biden announced plans to bring Graves back to his old office—this time, from the perch of U.S. Attorney, where he will be overseeing the ever-expanding prosecution of the Jan. 6th invasion of the U.S. Capitol. More than 535 people have been charged to date, more than 100 of whom face charges of assaulting or resisting police.

Senate Judiciary Chair Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) welcomed Biden’s “first slate” of U.S. Attorney nominations in a short statement.

“I look forward to timely consideration of these nominations in Committee,” Durbin said in a statement.

The Democratic senator from Illinois was quick to note that Biden’s other nominees would be pathbreaking choices. Of the other seven nominees, four would be the first African-American men to lead their districts; two would be the first African-American women to head their districts, and another would be the first woman in that post.

Rachael Rollins, a Black woman with decades of experience as a lawyer in Massachusetts, ran as a “progressive prosecutor” to secure her election to District Attorney for Suffolk County there in 2018. The president nominated her as U.S. Attorney for the District of Massachusetts, an office she previously served as a line prosecutor between 2007 and 2013.

If confirmed, Erek L. Barron—a partner at the law firm of Whiteford Taylor & Preston—would be the first African-American person to serve as U.S. Attorney for the District of Maryland. He served as Biden’s counsel and policy advisor for the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Crime and Drugs between 2007 and 2009.

Nicholas W. Brown, a partner at Pacifica Law Group, kicked off his legal career as a Judge Advocate General in the U.S. Army, where he took turns as both a prosecutor and defense counsel. He later acted as an assistant in the Western District of Washington, an office where Biden hopes he will serve as its first African-American U.S. Attorney.

After spending nearly a quarter of a century as an assistant U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Indiana—a position he held between 1986 to 2020—Clifford D. Johnson has been tapped to become the first African-American head of that post.

An assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Indiana since 2014, Zachary A. Myers hopes to become the first African-American leader for his district, as well.

The director of investigations for the National Science Foundation’s Office of Inspector General since 2018, Trini E. Ross has been asked to return to the Western District of New York, where she served as an assistant U.S. Attorney between 1995 to 2018. Ross would be the first African-American woman to lead her former district.

A former assistant for the Eastern District of Washington between 2013 to 2020, Vanessa Waldref would be the first woman lead that office if confirmed.

(Melina Mara/The Washington Post via Getty)

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Law&Crime's managing editor Adam Klasfeld has spent more than a decade on the legal beat. Previously a reporter for Courthouse News, he has appeared as a guest on NewsNation, NBC, MSNBC, CBS's "Inside Edition," BBC, NPR, PBS, Sky News, and other networks. His reporting on the trial of Ghislaine Maxwell was featured on the Starz and Channel 4 documentary "Who Is Ghislaine Maxwell?" He is the host of Law&Crime podcast "Objections: with Adam Klasfeld."