Two women in running to be next US Attorney-General

Both Lisa Monaco (left) and Sally Yates have previously held positions that required Senate confirmation.
Both Lisa Monaco (left) and Sally Yates have previously held positions that required Senate confirmation.PHOTOS: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE, REUTERS

WASHINGTON • The Biden transition team is weighing Attorney-General contenders led by Ms Lisa Monaco, who held key national security posts in the Obama administration, and Ms Sally Yates, who gained fame when she was fired by President Donald Trump, said people familiar with the matter.

The choice of either would help President-elect Joe Biden achieve his goal of having women represented at the highest levels of his administration.

Other candidates under consideration include Alabama Senator Doug Jones, who lost his re-election bid this month, and former Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, one person said.

Ms Monaco and Ms Yates both had extensive careers in the Justice Department. But Ms Yates' history of tussling with the Trump White House might make her approval harder if the Senate is still controlled by Republicans.

Ms Monaco, 52, spent 15 years in the Justice Department during the Clinton, George W. Bush and Obama administrations.

In 2011, she became the first woman to lead the department's national security division.

In 2013, then President Barack Obama selected her to serve as White House homeland security and counter-terrorism adviser.

Mr Biden's team is considering nominating Ms Monaco as Attorney-General and Mr Neil MacBride as her deputy, one of the people said. Mr MacBride, 55, served as US Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia during the Obama administration.

Ms Monaco worked for Mr Biden when he chaired the Senate Judiciary Committee, while Mr MacBride served as his chief counsel and staff director on the panel.

Ms Monaco also is under consideration to become director of national intelligence or Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, another person said.

Other names that have been put forward for the post of director of national intelligence include Mr Robert Cardillo, former director of the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and Mr Alejandro Mayorkas, who previously served as the department's deputy director.

Ms Yates, 60, is a 27-year veteran of the Justice Department chosen by Mr Obama to be deputy Attorney-General in 2015.

Prior to that, she was the first woman to serve as US Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

Ms Yates was acting Attorney-General in the early days of the Trump administration.

Shortly thereafter, she ordered the department to not defend Mr Trump's executive order restricting travel to the US from seven majority-Muslim countries, saying it was unlawful. She was immediately fired by Mr Trump.

Ms Yates also tangled with the Trump administration over Mr Trump's first national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was later charged by the Federal Bureau of Investigation for lying about talks with Russia's ambassador to the US.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2020, with the headline 'Two women in running to be next US Attorney-General'. Print Edition | Subscribe