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Brooklyn U.S. attorney heads to top DOJ role

Richard Donoghue, who heads the Eastern District of New York, is taking over as the top deputy to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen.

One of the country’s most prominent U.S. attorneys is going to Washington.

Richard Donoghue, who heads the Eastern District of New York, is taking over as the top deputy to Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen, POLITICO has learned. The role—officially titled principal associate deputy attorney general, or PADAG—is an important one, and typically involves working with the 93 U.S. attorneys working around the country.
Donoghue announced the move this morning to the staff of the Eastern District of New York, a spokesperson for the office confirmed.

Donoghue’s expected arrival will bring significant prosecutorial experience to the Justice Department’s fourth floor. Rosen, who became deputy attorney general (DAG) after Rod Rosenstein departed the position, started the job with no experience as a prosecutor. When Jeff Sessions was attorney general and Rosenstein was deputy attorney general, U.S. attorneys frequently heard from the fourth floor. But under Rosen’s tenure, sources said, interaction between U.S. attorneys and the DAG’s office has decreased, while prosecutors around the country deal more with Attorney General Bill Barr’s office than they had when Jeff Sessions held that post.

Some U.S. attorneys have been frustrated with the lack of communication with Rosen’s office, as well as with his lack of prosecutorial experience, according to two sources familiar with the dynamics. As PADAG, Donoghue will be a key figure in the relationship between U.S. attorneys around the country and DOJ headquarters.

Donoghue worked in the Eastern District of New York as an assistant U.S. attorney for more than a decade, including a stint as chief of the office’s criminal division. As U.S. attorney, he was on the leadership committee of the department’s China Initiative and supervised the prosecution of Huawei, the Chinese telecom giant. The Eastern District of New York also secured convictions of Nxivm sex cult leader Keith Raniere and notorious Mexican drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán during Donoghue’s time there.

Mark Lesko, the first assistant in the office, is in line to take over Donoghue’s job in an acting capacity.

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