By Benjamin Goad - 10/16/14 01:34 PM EDT
The Justice Department's second-raking official is preparing to step down, completing an exodus of top brass from the agency, according to a DOJ official.
Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole would become the third high-ranking member of the Department of Justice (DOJ) to announce his departure in recent weeks.
Associate Attorney General Tony West, the third-ranking DOJ official, stepped down on Sept. 15, leaving the agency to become general counsel at PepsiCo.
As deputy attorney general, Cole has overseen day-to-day operations at the agency for nearly four years, making him the second longest serving deputy attorney general in history and the longest serving in more than 50 years.
He was most visible on issues involving data collection and was closely involved with the agency’s response to legalization of marijuana in some states. He also has been vocal about the department’s willingness to pursue criminal cases against Wall Street banks.
Cole has agreed to stay in his post for the time being to ease the transition to new leadership at the agency. He has no immediate career plans, according to the official.