The Senate voted alongside occasion strains Wednesday to substantiate a lawyer who briefly represented a Russian financial institution with ties to the Kremlin to move the Justice Division’s felony division.
The affirmation of Brian Benczkowski got here two days after Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee urged President Donald Trump to drag his nomination, saying Benczkowski’s lack of prosecutorial expertise and illustration of Alfa Financial institution disqualified him for the job.
As a associate within the Washington workplace of the Kirkland & Ellis regulation agency, Benczkowski, 48, represented Alfa Financial institution early final yr when it was being investigated by the FBI over a sequence of information transmissions between laptop servers linked to the financial institution and the Trump Group in the course of the 2016 presidential election.
The info transmissions haven’t revealed any proof that Alfa Financial institution, one in every of Russia’s largest monetary establishments, served as a hyperlink between the Trump marketing campaign and the Kremlin.
Nonetheless, the controversy dogged Benczkowski’s nomination.
‘Demonstrated poor judgment’
The 10 Democrats on the judiciary panel wrote in a letter on Monday that Benczkowski “demonstrated poor judgment” by representing Alfa Financial institution at a time he was into account to move the felony division.
“At a time after we want the Division of Justice’s Felony Division to assist uncover, stop and deter Russian interference in our democracy, Mr. Benczkowski’s selections thus far haven’t impressed confidence that he’s the appropriate particular person to guide the combat,” they wrote.
Regardless of Democratic opposition, Benczkowski’s nomination drew assist from former Justice Division officers, with 5 former heads of the felony division just lately urging the Senate to substantiate the nod, praising him for his “skilled expertise, temperament and integrity.”
Lawyer Common Jeff Classes praised Benczkowsi as “an impressive lawyer with a various public service and felony regulation background spanning greater than 20 years.”
“At a time like this — with surging violent crime and an unprecedented drug epidemic — this place is very vital,” Classes mentioned in a press release.
Earlier than becoming a member of Kirkland & Ellis, Benczkowsi served in various senior positions on Senate and Home committees, in addition to within the Justice Division.
The felony division, one of many Justice Division’s largest models, oversees federal felony investigations and prosecutions.