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Biden nominee would be first Black man to hold top federal prosecutor job in Manhattan

Damian Williams, who oversees a securities task force in the U.S. attorney's office, previously prosecuted former Rep. Christopher Collins.
Image: Damian Williams
Damian Williams, President Joe Biden's nominee to be the U.S. attorney for Manhattan.U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan via Reuters

President Joe Biden on Tuesday nominated veteran prosecutor Damian Williams to be the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, which would put him in charge of one of the most high-profile federal prosecutor offices in the country.

Biden also announced seven other U.S. attorney nominations, including the Eastern District of New York as well as the Eastern and Western districts of Virginia.

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Williams would become the first Black man to oversee the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York. He currently serves as chief of a securities task force in that office.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan handles many of the country's most complex prosecutions of Wall Street executives. Its cases range from insider trading and securities fraud, to corruption and terrorism cases.

It is currently investigating former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who headed the office in the 1980s, and more recently became known for representing then-President Donald Trump.

The office is also prosecuting British socialite Ghislaine Maxwell, charged with helping financier and convicted sex offender Jeffrey Epstein groom teenage girls for sex.

She has pleaded not guilty.

Before Williams' current post, he prosecuted former New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver for bribery and extortion and also prosecuted the case against former U.S. Representative Christopher Collins for insider trading and lying to the FBI.

For U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, headquartered in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, Biden nominated Breon Peace, a former federal prosecutor who is now a partner with the law firm Cleary Gottlieb.

That office is handling a high-profile criminal case against Trump's billionaire ally Thomas Barrack, who faces charges of illegally lobbying on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. Barrack has pleaded not guilty.

For the Eastern District of Virginia, an office best known for handling many of the country's high-profile terrorism and national security-related prosecutions, Biden nominated veteran federal prosecutor Jessica Aber.

He also is tapping Christopher Kavanaugh, an assistant U.S. attorney who helped prosecute professed neo-Nazi James Fields for killing a counterprotester at a 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, as U.S. attorney for the Western District of Virginia.

The other nominees were Carla Freedman for the Northern District of New York, William Ihlenfeld for the Northern District of West Virginia, Darcie McElwee for the District of Maine, and William Thompson for the Southern District of West Virginia.