New Acting Attorney General Dana Boente Set for Brief Tenure

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Andrew G. McCabe (R), Assistant Director of the FBI's Washington Field Office speaks while flanked by Dana J. Boente (L), U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, after a hearing in federal court June 11, 2015 in Alexandria, Virginia. (Credit: Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The United States acting attorney general — for the next few days, at least — is a little-known, but longstanding federal prosecutor.

Dana Boente, the US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, was sworn in as acting attorney general at 9 p.m. Monday evening after President Donald Trump fired the former acting head, Sally Yates, for her unwillingness to defend the administration’s executive action on immigration. A few hours later, Boente issued a statement rescinding Yates’ order, instructing DOJ lawyers to “defend the lawful orders of our President.”

Boente’s tenure as the head of the Justice Department will only last a few days, pending attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions’ approval by the Senate. But Boente has instantly been thrown into the winds of a revealing political storm just 10 days into his presidency.

Boente has served the Justice Department for 31 years, according to his official biography, and has been the permanent US attorney for the Virginia court since December 2015. He served in the same role from October 2008 to September 2009, and as the US attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana from December 2012 to September 2013, at which point he was appointed to the acting US attorney role back in Virginia.

“I am honored to serve President Trump in this role until Senator Sessions is confirmed,” Boente said in a statement produced by the White House in announcing the appointment. “I will defend and enforce the laws of our country to ensure that our people and our nation are protected.”

Boente’s most prominent recent case was leading the corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, whose conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court last year. Boente declined this past September to retry the case.

“This investigation, prosecution and sentence will help restore and maintain the high integrity of the governor’s office,” Boente said in January 2015 when McDonnell was sentenced, “while affirming our commitment to prosecuting public officials who commit crimes.”

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