Oregon’s U.S. senators on Wednesday sent to the White House the names of three finalists for the U.S. Attorney’s job.
The three include two current prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney’s office in Portland: Assistant U.S. Attorney Craig Gabriel, 50, chief of the office’s criminal division who has worked as a federal prosecutor since 2007. He previously did civil litigation and criminal defense work for two law firms; and Assistant U.S. Attorney Natalie Wight, 47, deputy chief of the office’s organized and violent crime section. She has been working in the District of Oregon since 2012 and with the U.S. Department of Justice since 2003.
The third finalist is Vivek Kothari, 40, who does civil litigation as an associate with the Portland law firm Markowitz Herbold and co-founded the Oregon Clemency Project last year. He previously spent five years as a federal prosecutor in Atlanta.
Not on the list of finalists was Deschutes County District Attorney John Hummel, one of the original list of seven candidates.
A selection committee formed by U.S. Sens. Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden, both Democrats, picked the three finalists from seven candidates who applied for the job.
On the selection committee for Oregon’s U.S. attorney were several attorneys, community activists, Oregon’s retired state police superintendent and the current director of the Oregon Department of Public Safety Standards and Training. The committee evaluated the candidates’ applications, public input and interviewed each and ranked the seven who applied.
Wyden and Merkley said they’re not endorsing or “implying support” for any one of the three finalists.
“We’re confident that Oregonians would be well-served by having any one of these three candidates as our state’s U.S. Attorney, and we stand ready to advance President Biden’s ultimate choice through the confirmation process,” the senators said in a joint statement.
Acting U.S. Attorney Scott Asphaug has led the office since Billy J. Williams resigned Feb. 28 at the request of the Biden administration. Williams had been appointed by former President Donald Trump in November 2017.
President Joe Biden has said confirming the chief federal law enforcement officers in their districts is important to help take on “the uptick in gun crime,” including “putting more cops on the beat, supporting community prevention programs, and cracking down on illegal gun trafficking.”
The White House counsel also instructed U.S. senators that the administration is particularly focused on nominating people “who will act with independence and integrity and uphold the finest traditions of the U.S. Department of Justice.”Copyright 2021 Tribune Content Agency.