Who Might Joe Biden Select To Lead The Justice Department?

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Former U.S. Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates arrives for a ceremony for FBI Director Chris Wray at the FBI Building, Thursday, Sept. 28, 2017, in Washington.

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Then-Vice President Joe Biden reaches to shakes hands with the new Labor Secretary Thomas Perez during a ceremonial swearing-in ceremony for Perez, Wednesday, Sept. 4, 2013.

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«Well, I mean, why do people climb great mountains, right?» West asked. «It was a huge, huge challenge.»

Then again, West could be a sensitive choice in an administration anxious about the distance between the White House and DoJ because he’s the brother-in-law of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris.

Practical politics always plays a role in who might get a nomination, and that could be the case if Republicans retain their majority in the Senate, which confirms major presidential nominees.

Senate Republicans have signaled they would support outgoing Alabama Sen. Doug Jones, a Democrat who worked as U.S. Attorney in Birmingham during the Clinton administration.

Another leading candidate is former deputy attorney general Sally Yates. President Trump fired her 10 days into the administration for refusing to defend his travel ban for visitors from majority Muslim countries. Yates referenced that episode in remarks at the Democratic convention this year.

«That was the start of his relentless attacks on our democratic institutions and countless dedicated public servants,» she said.


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Before she became known for how she left Justice, Yates had been a career prosecutor, meaning she worked in top jobs under Democrats and Republicans, for 27 years. She brought to justice corrupt public officials in her native state of Georgia as well as Olympic Park bomber Eric Rudolph.

Yates’ supporters point out that during the Obama years, she helped promote education programs for incarcerated people and phased out DoJ’s contracts with private prisons. Trump appointees later reversed both those moves.


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The deputy

For deputy attorney general, the number two job at Justice, one leading candidate is Neil MacBride.

MacBride has been the top federal prosecutor in Northern Virginia, where he oversaw prosecutions against gang members, white collar fraudsters, and even Somali pirates — winning the first such jury convictions in more than 190 years.

MacBride also has long ties to Biden. He worked for the president-elect in the Senate and deferred law school 33 years ago to work on Biden’s first campaign for president.

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Leondra Kruger, right, and newly appointed Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, left, stand during Kruger’s confirmation hearing to the California Supreme Court Monday, Dec. 22, 2014.

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Leondra Kruger, right, and newly appointed Justice Mariano-Florentino Cuellar, left, stand during Kruger’s confirmation hearing to the California Supreme Court Monday, Dec. 22, 2014.

S. Todd Rogers/AP

Other new appointees at Justice could make history.

Vanita Gupta, who ran the civil rights unit under President Obama, may be in line to serve as associate attorney general, overseeing a broad portfolio that includes civil rights.

California Supreme Court Justice Leondra Kruger is a possible U.S. Solicitor General — perhaps as part of a career track that could be her route to the Supreme Court as the Black woman nominee Biden has promised.

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