US: Senate confirms new boss for Justice Department Criminal Division

The Senate voted 51 to 48 on Wednesday, July 11, to confirm Brian Benczkowski as an Assistant Attorney General at the Justice Department (DOJ), ending an 18-month-delay in which its Criminal Division operated without a permanent leader, reported the Financial Times.

Brian Benczkowski, who was narrowly approved in a 51-48 vote, is the latest of just a handful of lawyers to have led the criminal division despite having never worked as a prosecutor.

A partner at law firm Kirkland & Ellis, he has previously worked as a senior staff member on the Senate Judiciary Committee and chief of staff to the DOJ’s senior leadership during the George W Bush administration.

Mr Benczkowski’s appointment was opposed by Democratic senators who said he was compromised by his role in Kirkland’s representation of Russia’s Alfa-Bank, which came under suspicion after news reports during the 2016 campaign claimed servers at the Trump Organization and the bank were secretly communicating.

He had supervised an investigation into the claims by a cyber security firm hired by Alfa-Bank, which has said it had no relationship with the Trump Organization and said any server activity may have been the result of “an automated email-based campaign to market Trump properties to Alfa-Bank employees.”

Full Content: Financial Times

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