Oregon U.S. attorney Billy J. Williams, who was appointed by former President Donald Trump in November 2017, was one of the U.S. attorneys across the country who was ordered to resign on Tuesday when the Biden government tries to replace them.
“This morning, an attorney from across the United States called Acting Attorney General Wilkinson, instructing most presidential-appointed U.S. attorneys, including U.S. attorney Williams, to file their resignations on Feb. 28, 2021.” said Kevin Sonoff, a spokesman for the U.S. Oregon Prosecutor’s Office. .
“Our office will take all necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition and will provide more information soon.”
Scott Asphaug, the first assistant to the U.S. attorney, is expected to take over the post of attorney general on Feb. 28 before making a new appointment.
“Until the U.S. attorneys are confirmed, interim and commissioned heads of U.S. law firms will ensure that the ministry continues to fulfill its critical law enforcement mission, vigorously uphold the rule of law, and pursue a fair and impartial administration of justice,” said Attorney General Monty Wilkinson on Tuesday.
U.S. Senator Ron Wyden is working with U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley to appoint a selection committee to hear and recommend candidates for the job. The finalists are then recommended to be forwarded to the Biden administration for selection, according to the two Democratic senators.
“Both senators thank Billy Williams for serving in this position in Oregon for nearly six years as the state’s chief federal law enforcement officer,” the senators ’office said in a joint statement.
Among the names that have emerged as potential successors to Williams are:
- Craig Gabriel is an assistant U.S. attorney, deputy head of the agency’s criminal department, who has worked as a federal prosecutor since 2007 and previously worked in civil law and criminal defense in two law firms.
- Renata Gowie, head of the civil department of the office, was recently a candidate for the seat of federal appellate judge.
- Dwight Holton, a former Oregon attorney who previously worked as a federal prosecutor in New York and Portland before leading the Lines for Life nonprofit to prevent drug abuse and suicide.
- Ethan Knight is U.S. Assistant Attorney, Veteran Federal Attorney and Former District Attorney, who ran unsuccessfully this year for the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.
- Donna Maddux, who has spent eight years as a federal prosecutor after working for ten years in the Oregon Department of Justice, is taking just a few months in a new job that carries out privacy and cybersecurity laws in the private sector.
- Vivek Kothari, who conducts civil litigation as an employee of Markowitz Herbold and was a co-founder of the Oregon Grace Project last year. He previously spent five years as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta.
Williams, 64, served as a trustee and temporary U.S. attorney after replacing Amanda Marshall in April 2015 before being appointed by Trump on November 17, 2017 and confirmed by the Senate in March 2018. He joined the U.S. Law Firm in October 2000. Deputy District Attorney at Multnomah County.
Over the past month, Williams has tried to keep his job and asked for letters from supporters to submit on his behalf when he expressed a desire to remain in the chair.
Of the Trump-era appointees confirmed by the Senate, however, they were asked to resign, with the exception of two Delaware and Connecticut attorneys-general who oversee Trump-related investigations.
It is common for new presidents to replace U.S. lawyers, and Williams ’request to leave has been long overdue.
In recent years, Williams has clashed with Portland City officials.
Last year, his decision to maintain the federal replacement of 50 Portland police officers, despite opposition from the city and a request to abolish the federal authority granted to local officers, led to a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Justice.
In July, he called it a “pointless political theater” for Portland City officials to ban local police cooperation with federal officers in protest, and called on local residents to demand “violent extremists” to stop attempts to break the fence around the federal court. He also launched a rare federal civil disorder against more than a dozen people who took part in last year’s protests.
In February 2019, Williams called it a “defect of logic” after the city council voted to remove the Portland police from the FBI-led joint terrorism task force.
When he first took office, Williams oversaw Ammon Bundy and other leaders of the 41-day armed takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in southeastern Oregon.
Bundy and six other defendants accused during the armed takeover were acquitted at the October 2016 trial and were not found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct the work of federal employees by intimidation, threats or violence. The second trial resulted in a criminal conviction of at least one crime against all four other defendants who played a minor role in March 2017.
– Maxine Bernstein
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