Trump taps new prosecutor for DOJ office at center of Flynn, Stone controversies

President TrumpDonald John TrumpBiden holds massive cash advantage over Trump ahead of Election Day Tax records show Trump maintains a Chinese bank account: NYT Trump plays video of Biden, Harris talking about fracking at Pennsylvania rally MORE on Monday said he intends to nominate a new U.S. attorney for Washington, D.C., an office that has been at the center of controversial Department of Justice (DOJ) moves this year benefiting the president’s political allies.

Trump has picked Justin Herdman, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Ohio, to replace Timothy Shea, the White House announced. Shea has served as U.S. attorney for Washington on an interim basis since January.

Shea's temporary appointment, which by law may not exceed 120 days, was set to expire early next month.

As the permanent replacement, Herdman requires Senate approval. If the chamber fails to vote on his nomination, it will fall to the D.C. District Court to appoint a new interim head of the office until the vacancy is filled. The Senate confirmed Herdman by voice vote in 2017 for his current position.


During Shea’s tenure, the Washington office has played a central role in DOJ's request to drop charges against former national security adviser Michael Flynn and the department’s pursuit of a lighter sentence for Trump’s longtime political ally Roger StoneRoger Jason StoneTrump remarks put pressure on Barr DOJ veteran says he's quitting over Barr's 'slavish obedience' to Trump Only William Barr stands between Trump and the end of democracy in America MORE.

Critics argue that Shea, who previously served as senior counsel to Attorney General William BarrBill BarrThe Hill's Campaign Report: Two weeks to the election l Biden leads in new polls as debate looms l Trump pressures DOJ on Hunter Biden Trump remarks put pressure on Barr Meadows says Trump did not order declassification of Russia documents MORE, has been instrumental in the politicization of the DOJ.

After Shea and other top agency officials overruled career prosecutors earlier this year to request a more lenient sentence for Stone, the entire four-person prosecution team withdrew from the case, a stunning move taken in apparent protest.

One of those prosecutors, Jonathan Kravis, quit the department entirely. He broke his silence this month to excoriate what he described as political influence over the DOJ after Shea signed a motion to drop criminal charges against Flynn, despite his previously pleading guilty to lying to the FBI.

Another career prosecutor, Brandon Van Grack, who had helped secure Flynn’s plea agreement, abruptly withdrew from Flynn’s case, without explanation, less than an hour before DOJ moved to drop the charges. He reportedly also withdrew from other cases, but has not resigned.


Herdman gained national attention last year for viral remarks in which he rebuked white supremacy while announcing charges against a white nationalist suspect accused of threatening an attack on a Jewish community center.

Herdman also co-chairs a DOJ task force that aims to combat prescription pill fraud and abuse.

Updated at 2:25 p.m.