Damian Williams Makes History as the First Black U.S. Attorney in New York’s Southern District

Image: U.S. Attorney’s Office

Damian Williams made history by becoming the first Black U.S. Attorney of New York’s Southern District, the New York Times reports. Also, the Senate confirmed Breon S. Peace, to lead the federal prosecutor’s office in Brooklyn’s Eastern District.

On Tuesday, Williams, who served as Southern District prosecutor for nearly a decade, was confirmed by the Senate to be the most powerful federal law enforcement official in Manhattan.

After being recommended by Sen. Chuck Schumer, President Joe Biden nominated Williams and Peace to the positions in August, the Associated Press reported. Traditionally, Presidents defer to their party’s senior lawmaker in each state when selecting U.S. attorneys.

“Both Damian Williams and Breon Peace have dedicated their careers to equal justice under the law,” Mr. Schumer said in a statement late Tuesday. “They will bring a passion for the rule of law, civil rights and justice to their respective posts, as well as profound integrity and expertise to their offices.”

Williams will oversee high-profile cases such as the sex-trafficking trial next month of Ghislaine Maxwell, the longtime companion of Jeffrey Epstein. Also, he’ll lead the investigation into Rudy Giuliani, the former lawyer to former President Donald Trump, over his involvement in Ukraine before the 2020 presidential election. 

Williams, a Yale Law School graduate, clerked for Merrick B. Garland, now the U.S. attorney general, when he was a federal appeals court judge in Washington. He also clerked for Justice John Paul Stevens on the Supreme Court. 

Peace, a partner at the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, will oversee that Eastern District that prosecuted R. Kelly at his sex-trafficking and racketeering trial last month. Previously, he worked as an Eastern District prosecutor and clerked for Judge Sterling Johnson Jr. of the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn.

A graduate of New York University School of Law, Peace will lead the prosecution of Thomas J. Barrack Jr., an ally of Trump who was charged in July with lobbying violations and obstruction of justice. 

Peace succeeds Jacquelyn M. Kasulis who has been serving as acting U.S. attorney.

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