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On July 14, 2017, President Donald Trump made his third group of nominations of prospective United States Attorneys. This brings the current number of Trump’s United States Attorney nominations to twenty-three – overviews of the previous nominations can be found here and here. The six lawyers Trump nominated last week are:
These nominations continue a couple of trends from previous nominations. Sixteen of Trump’s twenty-three nominees to this point have come from states with two Republican Senators where the “blue slips” approving Presidential nominations are likely easier to come by. Seventeen of the Trump nominees come from small or medium districts as DOJ categorizes them, where the addition of another lawyer can make a significant difference in how the office workload gets distributed.
The most recent group of Trump nominees is similar to previous Trump nominees (and former President Obama’s United States Attorneys) in other ways as well:
The current group of nominees differs from the first two Trump groups in a couple of ways, though. While over half of Trump’s nominees before last week had state prosecutorial experience, only one of the six most recent nominees (Joshua Minkler of Indiana) previously served as a state prosecutor. This brings the percentage of Trump nominees with state prosecutorial experience down to around 43%, which is closer to the less than a third of the Obama nominees who served as state prosecutors prior to nomination. Trump’s most recent nominees also have much more large law firm experience than the previous two groups: four of six in this group are either currently working in or have worked in large law firms (Deegan, Higdon, Jensen, and Kirsch), compared to just three of the previous seventeen. Trump’s nominees so far have somewhat more large law firm experience than Obama’s did – around 30% for Trump to around 20% for Obama.
Trump’s nominees as a group also differ from Obama’s in another way. As of this group of nominations, three of Trump’s nominees have prior service as a sworn law enforcement officer: Jeffrey Jensen and Russell Coleman (the nominee for the Western District of Kentucky) previously served as FBI agents, and Brian Kuester (the nominee for the Eastern District of Oklahoma) was a police officer before he went to law school. Only one of the more than 100 Obama United States Attorneys (Malcolm Bales of Texas) had service as a sworn law enforcement officer before being nominated. Trump’s nomination of lawyers with sworn law enforcement experience is part and parcel with his nomination of lawyers with state court prosecutorial experience in continuing to emphasize efforts to combat violent crime.
Here are a couple of stray observations:
As noted above, Trump’s nominations to this point have largely come from small or medium districts in states with two Republican Senators. Given this trend, it is reasonable to predict that the next one or two groups of nominations will include lawyers from Alaska, Louisiana, Nebraska, South Dakota, or Wyoming – the only states left with two Republican Senators, small and/or medium districts, and no nominees to this point.
If you have any questions please contact Ripley Rand at 919.755.8125 or RRand@wcsr.com
Ripley Rand advises and represents businesses and people dealing with governmental investigations, business disputes, regulatory matters, and corporate compliance issues. Before joining Womble Carlyle, Ripley Rand served as the United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina, a North Carolina state court judge, and a North Carolina Assistant District Attorney.