August 22, 2017

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Trump Announces Fifth Wave of United States Attorney Nominations, Gets First Senate Confirmations

On August 3, 2017, President Donald Trump made his fifth group of nominations of prospective United States Attorneys. This brings the current number of Trump’s United States Attorney nominations to thirty-three, a little over a third of the total number of United States Attorney positions – overviews of the previous nominations can be found here, here, here, and here (with some bonus coverage here). The four lawyers Trump nominated last week are:

  • Scott C. Blader, the elected District Attorney for Waushara County, Wisconsin, to be the United States Attorney for the Western District of Wisconsin.

  • Robert M. Duncan, Jr., an Assistant United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky, to be the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

  • John R. Lausch, Jr., a partner in the Chicago office of Kirkland & Ellis, LLP, to be the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.

  • William J. Powell, a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the Jefferson County, West Virginia, Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, to be the United States Attorney for the Northern District of West Virginia.

Many of the trends from the earlier batches of nominees continue here. Over 90% of Trump’s nominees have prior prosecutorial experience – all four of these nominees have it, and three of these four (everyone except Wisconsin’s Scott Blader) have worked as Assistant United States Attorneys. Two of the four in this group have state court prosecutorial experience, as over a third of Trump’s nominees do. With the exception of Chicago’s John Lausch (who is nominated for one of the “extra large” offices), Trump continues to focus on small and medium United States Attorney’s Offices as DOJ categorizes them in these nominations. These nominees as a group average around twenty-one years of legal experience, right around the twenty-three years of legal experience of the Trump nominees as a whole. Trump’s nominees also continue to mirror in many ways former President Obama’s nominees – around twenty-three years of legal experience on average, more than 80% had some prosecutorial experience prior to nomination, around a third were former state prosecutors. 

Here are a few stray observations:

  • It was a good week for the United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky. In addition to getting a United States Attorney nominee, the office was one of twelve nationwide that received an additional prosecutor as part of the DOJ rollout of an opioid fraud and abuse detection unit.

  • Wisconsin’s Scott Blader is from Wautoma, which claims to be the “Christmas tree capital of the world.” (We here in North Carolina may have a thing or two to say about that.)

  • Chicago’s John Lausch is the former captain of the Harvard football team. (He played linebacker.)

  • West Virginia’s William Powell is a contributing writer to a blog about hiking the Appalachian Trail.

Since he began announcing nominees for these positions, Trump has been pushing out another group every week or two, and so is on a significantly faster pace than his predecessor – at this point in 2009, Obama had only named twenty United States Attorney nominees compared with Trump’s thirty-three to this point. The confirmation of Trump nominees (at least to this point) is also happening more quickly. This week also marked the first confirmations for Trump United States Attorney nominees – Justin Herdman of Northern Ohio, John Huber of Utah, and Jay Town of Northern Alabama were confirmed by the Senate on August 3, 2017. Despite the multiple high-profile issues that the Senate has dealt with so far this term, these confirmations (fifty days from nomination) were pretty speedy. Former President Obama was working with a relatively politically friendly Senate (57/41 Democratic/Republican, with the two non-affiliated Senators typically caucusing with the Democrats) during his first year in office, and his first group of United States Attorney confirmations took sixty-four days. There are six more United States Attorney nominees on the Senate Executive Calendar this week, so the number of confirmed nominees (and announcements of additional nominees) will probably be growing soon.

Copyright © 2017 Womble Carlyle Sandridge & Rice, PLLC. All Rights Reserved.

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About this Author

Ripley Rand, Womble Carlyle Law Firm, Criminal Defense Attorney
Partner

Ripley Rand brings more than twenty years of federal and state courtroom experience to Womble Carlyle’s White Collar Criminal Defense Team. His practice focuses on white collar criminal defense, health care fraud defense, internal investigations, and regulatory enforcement.

In 2010, Ripley was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve as the United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina. After being unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate, Ripley was the United States Attorney...

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