Former US attorneys urge support for Trump nominee

Former US attorneys urge support for Trump nominee
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A group of more than a dozen former U.S. attorneys from both the Bush and Obama administrations on Wednesday urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to confirm President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE’s nominee to lead the Justice Department’s Criminal Division.

Brian Benczkowski’s nomination has been stalled for months, with Democrats raising questions about his work for a Russian bank that has faced scrutiny in the federal investigation into 2016 election meddling.

But in the letter sent to Judiciary Committee leaders Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleySenators push to clear backlog in testing rape kits Controversial Trump judicial nominee withdraws The Hill's Morning Report — Trump’s walk-back fails to stem outrage on Putin meeting MORE (R-Iowa) and Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinSenate GOP breaks record on confirming Trump picks for key court Deal to fix family separations hits snag in the Senate Election Countdown: Senate, House Dems build cash advantage | 2020 Dems slam Trump over Putin presser | Trump has M in war chest | Republican blasts parents for donating to rival | Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders to campaign in Kansas MORE (D-Calif.), the former U.S. attorneys praise Benczkowski’s “temperament, integrity, and experience.”

“That position is the nerve center of federal prosecution, and the absence of a confirmed occupant can diminish the effectiveness of our law enforcement program throughout the country,” the former prosecutors wrote. “Those of us who know Brian recognize that he is the right person to provide that leadership and to be a strong and effective partner with the United States Attorneys’ Offices.”

A slate of Democrats, including Feinstein, raised concerns over Benczkowski’s private-practice work on behalf of the Russian Alfa Bank following his nomination in June.

Critics characterized his nomination as an attack on special counsel Robert MuellerRobert Swan MuellerSasse: US should applaud choice of Mueller to lead Russia probe MORE’s investigation.

“Benczkowski nomination must be seen for what it is — the latest piece of a sustained, coordinated effort to undercut the Special Counsel’s credibility,” Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), who sits on the panel, tweeted in January. “My colleagues should put country before party and vote NO.”

The Wednesday letter, which follows a similar appeal from five former leaders of the Criminal Division last week, does not mention Benczkowski’s work for Alpha while he was with Kirkland & Ellis.

The letter last week, reported by Politico, was also a bipartisan effort, signed by officials who served under Obama.