Biden nominee for US attorney in Manhattan could make Black history

President Biden was asked to nominate Damian Williams to lead the Southern District of New York back in March.

If confirmed, the next U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, which includes Manhattan, could make history.

Damian Williams must still be confirmed by the Senate, but he could be the first African American to lead the high-profile prosecutors’ office.

A graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School, Williams has worked in the office for nearly a decade and is a former clerk for current Attorney General Merrick Garland. He currently oversees a unit that specializes in securities fraud. He also has a history in handling high-profile, politically sensitive cases, which would serve him well as leader of the SDNY.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer asked President Biden to nominate Damian Williams (above) to lead the Southern District of New York as U.S. attorney. (United States Attorney’s Office Southern District of New York via AP)

The Southern District of New York was involved in several investigations involving former President Donald Trump and many of his associates, plus two U.S. attorneys, Preet Bharara and Geoffrey S. Berman, were ousted from SDNY during the Trump administration.

The office prosecuted Trump strategist Steve Bannon and Michael Cohen, the former “fixer” of the ex-president, who pleaded guilty to campaign finance violations in 2018. It is currently investigating Rudy Giuliani to discover if the former New York City mayor broke lobbying laws in his dealings with Ukraine.

Yesterday, President Joe Biden also announced the nomination of Breon S. Peace, a former federal prosecutor, to lead the U.S. attorney’s office in Brooklyn. Peace attended the University of California, Berkeley, and New York University School of Law. He specializes in white-collar defense and investigations.

Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York asked the president back in March — following a year of diverse demonstrations against police practices widely considered racist — to nominate Williams and Peace, who is also Black, to helm the Manhattan and Brooklyn agencies.

The nominations to the New York-based U.S. attorney’s offices were announced along with more than a half dozen others, including Jessica Aber in the Eastern District of Virginia, Carla Freedman in the Northern District of New York, William Ihlenfeld in the Northern District of West Virginia, Christopher Kavanaugh in the Western District of Virginia, Darcie McElwee in the District of Maine and William Thompson in the Southern District of West Virginia.

In a statement, White House officials said, “These individuals were chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice.”

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