The Senate on Tuesday confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominees to lead U.S. attorney’s offices in Manhattan and Brooklyn, two of the most high-profile federal prosecutor jobs in the country.
Damian Williams will represent Manhattan as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), while Breon Peace takes over in Brooklyn as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York (EDNY). The Senate confirmed them as part of a block of eight federal prosecutor nominees, according to its Daily Digest.
Williams becomes the first Black man to ever lead the SDNY. He has served the office since 2012, including as chief of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Task Force since 2018. From 2009-12, he was a partner with the firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, and he has a law degree from Yale.
He replaces Audrey Strauss, who served as acting U.S. attorney for the SDNY since June 2020, when President Donald Trump abruptly fired Geoffrey Berman. Trump then nominated former SEC Chair Jay Clayton to take over the position, but the nomination was never considered by Congress.
The SDNY is often the source of many high-profile investigations into white-collar and financial crime on Wall Street, and the choice of Williams, with his experience in securities litigation, might be a signal the office will be more aggressive in policing the financial services industry.
Peace has been a partner at the firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton in New York since 2007 and served as an assistant U.S. attorney for the EDNY from 2000-02. Peace, who received his law degree from New York University School of Law, later returned to the school for a year to serve as acting assistant professor of clinical law.
Peace will replace the acting U.S. attorney for the EDNY, Jacquelyn Kasulis.
The appointment of Williams and Peace, along with the confirmation of Trini Ross to be U.S. attorney for the Western District of New York late last month, marks the first time all three offices have been led by Black individuals at the same time. Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) tweeted he was “so proud” to recommend each nominee.
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