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Virginia U.S. senators send White House list of candidates for U.S. Attorney posts

Reuters logo Reuters 3/4/2021 By Sarah N. Lynch
Mark Warner wearing a suit and tie: Senate Intelligence Committee Examines Solar Winds Hack © Reuters/POOL Senate Intelligence Committee Examines Solar Winds Hack

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Virginia's U.S. Senate Democrats said on Wednesday they were submitting four potential candidates to the White House to be considered for the state's top two federal prosecutor posts.

In a letter to President Joe Biden, Senators Mark Warner and Tim Kaine said they were recommending John Hall, a prominent litigator at the law firm Covington & Burling, and veteran federal prosecutor Jessica Aber as candidates for U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

For the Western District of Virginia U.S. Attorney, they are recommending Erin Ashwell, who serves as chief deputy attorney general for Virginia, and Christopher Kavanaugh, an assistant U.S. Attorney who helped prosecute self-professed Neo-Nazi James Alex Fields, Jr, for killing a counterprotester at the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Tim Kaine wearing a suit and tie looking at the camera: Senators Warner and Kaine meet with furloughed workers in Alexandria Virginia © Reuters/KEVIN LAMARQUE Senators Warner and Kaine meet with furloughed workers in Alexandria Virginia

Video: FBI Director Wray testifies in Senate hearing on Capitol attack (NBC News)

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Biden will decide who to nominate, but traditionally each state's home senators play a role in interviewing, vetting and recommending candidates for the nation's 93 U.S. Attorney jobs.

The U.S. Attorney's office for the Eastern District of Virginia is known for handling many of the country's high-profile terrorism and national security-related prosecutions.

The office has several major cases underway, including one against two Islamic State militants known as the "Beatles" over their alleged involvement in the beheadings of American hostages in Syria, and another against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange, accused of conspiring to hack government computers and espionage.

Hall recently represented TikTok in its lawsuit against the Trump administration over an executive order banning transactions with the popular video-sharing app in the United States.

Aber serves as the No. 2 in the office's criminal division and was a member of the trial team that secured public corruption convictions against former Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell and his wife Maureen. The convictions were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Acting U.S. Attorney Raj Parekh, a career federal prosecutor who is the first person of color to lead the office, did not apply for the job.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Additional reporting by Caroline Spiezio; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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