Attorneydiction.com – The head of one of the country’s most famous US Attorney’s offices said Tuesday he was resigning after nearly three years of prosecuting terrorists, spies and political actors.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney. for the Eastern District of Virginia, joined the private sector with a position at the law firm Vinson and Elkins.
Terwilliger, 39, is the country’s youngest U.S. Attorney and has headed the office since 2018, but his relationship with the office goes back to 1999, when he worked there as an intern. He also served for many years there as a prosecutor.
It is common for US Attorney to step down from their posts during the presidential transition, giving the new president the opportunity to appoint his own prosecutor.
The office routinely handles high-level demands. Last year, that the service received charges against suspected ISIS members, Alexandra Amon Kotei and El Shafi Elsheich, British nationals known as The Beatles, because of this they were two members of four British accents who were allegedly involved in the arrest and execution of Western hostages.
Building the case and bringing the couple to Virginia took years of work, domestically and internationally, with competition from other US Attorney offices looking to build the case.
Terwilliger, a Republican whose father, George Terwilliger, is a deputy attorney general and acting attorney general in the GOP administration, will leave at a time when the Justice Department faces criticism that it became politicized during the Trump administration and especially under US Attorney General William Barr.
“So that the two men sit in the Eastern District of Virginia – innocent until proven guilty – but for them here on US soil to find out all that has to do with the charges being built, get the evidence we need from the UK and then to what extent ensure they are detained with safe during a global pandemic … Logically, it was probably one of the hardest cases I have ever seen,” he said.
Terwilliger said he hoped some would always argue against him being the man appointed by President Donald Trump, but he doesn’t think most people feel that way, and he says his independence as a prosecutor has never been compromised.
“I don’t see anything being done outside of politics,” he said in an interview. “I can’t think of a single instance where someone turned around saying ‘You’re going to do this. It’s your decision.'”
Prior to serving as US Attorney, he served as Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein chief of staff, writing a memo explaining the justification for firing FBI Director James Comey for his handling of a 2016 investigation into Hillary Clinton’s use of e-personal mail servers, when most people believes Trump wants Comey to be fired for pursuing a Russian election interference investigation.
Rosenstein’s memo specifically blamed Comey for the press conference he organized in 2016, without telling the Attorney General, that the investigation had concluded with insufficient evidence to file a criminal complaint, but still commented that Clinton and his team had been “very careless” in their handling. . secret information.
“We all share the belief that the press conference was grossly inappropriate and simply wrong,” said Terwilliger. “That excuse is completely legitimate … The director of the FBI is not an independent contractor. There is an organizational chart. He might be in charge for 10 years but they report to the Attorney General and Deputy Attorney General, and that’s the problem Director Comey has.”
National security cases such as the prosecution of The Beatles, and the successful espionage prosecution of Chinese spies Kevin Mallory and Jerry Lee, have always been a priority in the Eastern District of Virginia, home to the Pentagon and the CIA. Terwilliger also seeks to make violent crime and white collar crime a priority. He has brought many cases of fraud, related to the corona virus pandemic to date. He’s focused now on violent crime in the southern Tri-Cities area of Richmond and on Hampton Roads, where he says some besieged communities need federal partners to help reduce unacceptable crime rates.
“He’s helped put real boots right on the ground here in Petersburg. He travels to the city, walks and meets residents, and ensures they are committed to providing the city with the necessary resources, “Petersburg police chief Travis Christian said in a statement.
Sometimes his priorities have drawn criticism. Early in her term, US District Judge Leonie Brinkema criticized the number of cases she brought for illegal entry into the United States. Terwilliger, however, defended the policy, saying that most of the cases stemmed from some other underlying crime, such as domestic violence or drunkenness. drive.
Terwilliger’s resignation took effect on January 15. First Assistant Raj Parekh will serve as Acting U.S. Attorney and will be the first minority to head the office in its 232-year history.