Bench Memos

Trump’s Justice Department Begins to Take Shape

Barring some extraordinary development, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions will be the next Attorney General of the United States. What will the Justice Department look like under Sessions? Based upon this reporting by David Lat at Above the Law, the Department will be led by a team of smart, principled, experienced attorneys.

For starters, it’s been widely reported that Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein will be nominated to be Sessions’ number two: Deputy Attorney General. As I blogged here, Rosenstein would be a fabulous choice.

For Associate Attorney General, Lat reports the leading candidate is Rachel Brand, former head of DOJ’s Office of Legal Policy. This is another inspired choice.

For Solicitor General, Lat’s story is consistent with my reporting that the leading candidates are NY litigator George Conway and former Reagan Administration DOJ official Charles “Chuck” Cooper

Lat further reports that the leading contender to head the Office of Legal Counsel is Steven Engel, who served as the Deputy AAG for that office in the second half of the Bush Administration.

Finally, Lat reports on two individuals who had been rumored to be in the running for SG: Jones Day attorneys Noel Francisco and Greg Katsas. Writes Lat, Francisco is likely to be the Principal Deputy SG and Katsas is expected to be Deputy White House Counsel.

Whatever one thinks of Trump’s other appointments, this would be a very strong legal team and one that should instill confidence. Let’s hope that Lat’s reporting is correct (and that the President-elect does not change his mind).


Jonathan H. Adler — Mr. Adler is an NRO contributing editor and the inaugural Johan Verheij Memorial Professor of Law at Case Western Reserve University School of Law. His latest book is Marijuana Federalism: Uncle Sam and Mary Jane.


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