Senate confirmation votes strengthen Biden’s Justice Department leadership team

Biden’s choices to lead the National Security Division, the Office of the Legal Advisor and the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Policy were all confirmed in floor votes Thursday, as was Solicitor General candidate Elizabeth Prelogar , who will be the administration’s chief counsel in cases before the Supreme Court of the United States.

“All of them, imminently qualified, have extensive experience and solid credentials, and they understand the importance of the independence of the Department of Justice,” said Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Dick Durbin, a Democrat of the ‘Illinois, ahead of procedural votes earlier this week.

Prelogar’s confirmation by 53 to 36 comes as the Biden administration prepares to argue a crucial case in Supreme Court, with its arguments on Monday in the DOJ’s challenge to the six-week abortion ban at the Texas.

Prelogar, a former Special Counsel Robert Mueller team who spent several years in the department before this investigation, was named Biden’s choice for the job in August, just weeks before the start of his new tenure. the Supreme Court. Biden’s slowness in announcing her appointment raised eyebrows in the legal community, as she had served as Acting Solicitor General since starting her administration. Still, she moved quickly through the committee process, where two Republicans joined Democrats in supporting her nomination.

Likewise, Matthew Olsen’s appointment as head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division came out of the Judiciary Committee by 13 to 9. Olsen, an Uber executive at the time his appointment was announced. , had previously served in the department for almost 18 years. He also served as General Counsel for the National Security Agency and was director of the National Counterterrorism Center for three years under the Obama administration.

The Senate confirmed Olsen to the role – which deals with some of the most sensitive issues handled by the department – by a vote of 53-45.

Christopher Schroeder, as the newly confirmed Deputy Attorney General for the Office of the Legal Counsel, will also have several sensitive questions on his desk. The OLC acts as a legal advisory firm to the rest of the executive.

Under the Trump administration, the office was scrutinized for an interpretation of the anti-nepotism law that gave the green light to hiring Jared Kushner in the White House, as well as for its handling of a whistleblower’s report on the infamous Ukrainian appeal from former President Donald Trump.
Now the OLC is giving the White House legal advice on how to deal with privilege issues that arise as lawmakers investigating the January 6 attack seek testimony and documents from former Trump advisers .

Schroeder served as the acting chief of the OLC, having been one of the office’s principal lawyers during the Clinton administration. He also previously headed the Office of Legal Policy during the Obama administration. It was confirmed by 56 votes to 41.

Hampton Dellinger, the new DOJ legal policy bureau chief who was confirmed by a 53-37 vote, has previously been involved in high-profile fights as a private attorney representing the States women’s football team -United in one Gender discrimination case against the World Cup due to the use of synthetic turf.
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He also worked on a lawsuit calling for the removal of Confederate statutes in North Carolina. He will now head the office that helps vet judicial candidates, while helping to guide the executive regulation process.

The four recently confirmed people join Attorney General Merrick Garland, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco, Deputy Attorney General Vanita Gupta and Deputy Attorneys General for Criminal Divisions, Civil Rights and Environment.

But the administration still has several key positions to fill with people appointed by the Senate.

Jonathan Kanter, Biden’s candidate for head of the DOJ’s antitrust division, left the Senate Judiciary Committee on Thursday. A candidate for the post of deputy attorney general for the department’s tax division has yet to be appointed – leaving vacant a post lacking a candidate confirmed by the Senate for more than seven years – while Biden’s initial choice to lead the civilian division, Javier Guzman, withdrew himself from consideration for personal reasons.

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story twisted the office that Schroeder ran during the Obama administration.

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