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|United States Attorney General|
Seal of the Department of Justice
Flag of the Attorney General
|United States Department of Justice|
|Style||Mr. Attorney General|
|Reports to||President of the United States|
|Seat||Department of Justice Headquarters, Washington, D.C.|
|Appointer||The President |
with Senate advice and consent
|Term length||No Fixed Term|
|Constituting instrument|| 28 U.S.C. § 503 |
Judiciary Act of 1789
|Formation||September 26, 1789|
|First holder||Edmund Randolph|
|Deputy||Deputy Attorney General|
|Salary||Executive Schedule, level I|
The United States Attorney General (A.G.) is the chief lawyer of the federal government of the United States and head of the United States Department of Justice per 28 U.S.C. § 503, concerned with all legal affairs.
The Federal Government of the United States is the national government of the United States, a federal republic in North America, composed of 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and several island possessions. The federal government is composed of three distinct branches: legislative, executive, and judicial, whose powers are vested by the U.S. Constitution in the Congress, the President, and the federal courts, respectively. The powers and duties of these branches are further defined by acts of congress, including the creation of executive departments and courts inferior to the Supreme Court.
The United States Department of Justice (DOJ), also known as the Justice Department, is a federal executive department of the U.S. government, responsible for the enforcement of the law and administration of justice in the United States, equivalent to the justice or interior ministries of other countries. The department was formed in 1870 during the Ulysses S. Grant administration.
Title 28 is the portion of the United States Code that governs the federal judicial system.
Under the Appointments Clause of the United States Constitution, the officeholder is nominated by the President of the United States and appointed with the advice and consent of the United States Senate. The U.S. Constitution provides that civil officers of the United States, which would include the U.S. Attorney General, may be impeached by Congress for treason, bribery or high crimes and misdemeanors.The United States Attorney General may be removed at will by the President of the United States under the Supreme Court decision Myers v. United States , which found that executive branch officials may be removed without the consent of any entity. In cases of the federal death penalty, the power to seek the death penalty rests with the U.S. Attorney General.
The Appointments Clause is part of Article II, Section 2, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution, which empowers the President of the United States to nominate and, with the advice and consent (confirmation) of the United States Senate, appoint public officials. Although the Senate must confirm certain principal officers, Congress may by law delegate the Senate's advice and consent role when it comes to "inferior" officers.
The United States Constitution is the supreme law of the United States. The Constitution, originally comprising seven articles, delineates the national frame of government. Its first three articles embody the doctrine of the separation of powers, whereby the federal government is divided into three branches: the legislative, consisting of the bicameral Congress ; the executive, consisting of the President ; and the judicial, consisting of the Supreme Court and other federal courts. Articles Four, Five and Six embody concepts of federalism, describing the rights and responsibilities of state governments, the states in relationship to the federal government, and the shared process of constitutional amendment. Article Seven establishes the procedure subsequently used by the thirteen States to ratify it. It is regarded as the oldest written and codified national constitution in force.
The President of the United States (POTUS) is the head of state and head of government of the United States of America. The president directs the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces.
The current Attorney General is William Barr.
Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789 which, among other things, established the Office of the Attorney General. The original duties of this officer were "to prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States shall be concerned, and to give his advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the President of the United States, or when requested by the heads of any of the departments."
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the Federal Government of the United States. The legislature consists of two chambers: the House of Representatives and the Senate.
The Judiciary Act of 1789 was a United States federal statute adopted on September 24, 1789, in the first session of the First United States Congress. It established the federal judiciary of the United States. Article III, Section 1 of the Constitution prescribed that the "judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and such inferior Courts" as Congress saw fit to establish. It made no provision for the composition or procedures of any of the courts, leaving this to Congress to decide.
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the federal judiciary of the United States. Established pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution in 1789, it has original jurisdiction over a small range of cases, such as suits between two or more states, and those involving ambassadors. It also has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all federal court and state court cases that involve a point of federal constitutional or statutory law. The Court has the power of judicial review, the ability to invalidate a statute for violating a provision of the Constitution or an executive act for being unlawful. However, it may act only within the context of a case in an area of law over which it has jurisdiction. The Court may decide cases having political overtones, but it has ruled that it does not have power to decide nonjusticiable political questions. Each year it agrees to hear about 100–150 of the more than 7,000 cases that it is asked to review.
The Department of Justice was established in 1870 to support the Attorney General in the discharge of their responsibilities.
The Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of Defense are generally regarded as the four most important Cabinet officials in the United States because of the significance and age of their respective departments.
The Secretary of State is a senior official of the federal government of the United States of America, and as head of the United States Department of State, is principally concerned with foreign policy and is considered to be the U.S. government's equivalent of a Minister for Foreign Affairs.
The Secretary of the Treasury is the head of the United States Department of the Treasury which is concerned with financial and monetary matters, and, until 2003, also included several federal law enforcement agencies. This position in the federal government of the United States is analogous to the Minister of Finance in many other countries. The Secretary of the Treasury is a member of the President's Cabinet, and is nominated by the President of the United States. Nominees for Secretary of the Treasury undergo a confirmation hearing before the United States Senate Committee on Finance before being voted on by the United States Senate.
The Secretary of Defense (SecDef) is the leader and chief executive officer of the United States Department of Defense, the executive department of the Armed Forces of the U.S. The Secretary of Defense's position of command and authority over the U.S. military is second only to that of the President and Congress, respectively. This position corresponds to what is generally known as a Defense Minister in many other countries. The Secretary of Defense is appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and is by custom a member of the Cabinet and by law a member of the National Security Council.
It is the practice for the Attorney General, along with many other public officials, to give resignation with effect on the Inauguration Day (January 20) of a new President. The Deputy Attorney General, who is also required to tender their resignation, is commonly requested to stay on and act as Attorney General pending the confirmation by the Senate of the new Attorney General.
For example, on the inauguration of President Donald Trump on January, 20, 2017, the tenure of the then Attorney General Loretta Lynch was brought to an end, and the Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who had also tendered her resignation, was asked to stay on and be Acting Attorney General until the confirmation of the new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had been nominated for the office in November 2016 by then-President-elect Donald Trump.
No party (1) Federalist (3) Democratic-Republican (5) Democratic (34) Whig (4) Republican (38)
|No.||Portrait||Name||State of Residence||Took office||Left office||President(s)|
|1||Edmund Randolph||Virginia||September 26, 1789||January 26, 1794||George Washington|
|2||William Bradford||Pennsylvania||January 27, 1794||August 23, 1795|
|3||Charles Lee||Virginia||December 10, 1795||February 19, 1801|
|4||Levi Lincoln Sr.||Massachusetts||March 5, 1801||March 2, 1805||Thomas Jefferson|
|5||John Breckinridge||Kentucky||August 7, 1805||December 14, 1806|
|6||Caesar Augustus Rodney||Delaware||January 20, 1807||December 10, 1811|
|7||William Pinkney||Maryland||December 11, 1811||February 9, 1814|
|8||Richard Rush||Pennsylvania||February 10, 1814||November 12, 1817|
|9||William Wirt||Virginia||November 13, 1817||March 4, 1829||James Monroe|
|John Quincy Adams|
|10||John M. Berrien||Georgia||March 9, 1829||July 19, 1831||Andrew Jackson|
|11||Roger B. Taney||Maryland||July 20, 1831||November 14, 1833|
|12||Benjamin Franklin Butler||New York||November 15, 1833||July 4, 1838|
|Martin Van Buren|
|13||Felix Grundy||Tennessee||July 5, 1838||January 10, 1840|
|14||Henry D. Gilpin||Pennsylvania||January 11, 1840||March 4, 1841|
|15||John J. Crittenden||Kentucky||March 5, 1841||September 12, 1841||William Henry Harrison|
|16||Hugh S. Legaré||South Carolina||September 13, 1841||June 20, 1843|
|17||John Nelson||Maryland||July 1, 1843||March 4, 1845|
|18||John Y. Mason||Virginia||March 5, 1845||October 16, 1846||James K. Polk|
|19||Nathan Clifford||Maine||October 17, 1846||March 17, 1848|
|20||Isaac Toucey||Connecticut||June 21, 1848||March 4, 1849|
|21||Reverdy Johnson||Maryland||March 8, 1849||July 21, 1850||Zachary Taylor|
|22||John J. Crittenden (2)||Kentucky||July 22, 1850||March 4, 1853||Millard Fillmore|
|23||Caleb Cushing||Massachusetts||March 7, 1853||March 4, 1857||Franklin Pierce|
|24||Jeremiah S. Black||Pennsylvania||March 6, 1857||December 16, 1860||James Buchanan|
|25||Edwin Stanton||Pennsylvania||December 20, 1860||March 4, 1861|
|26||Edward Bates||Missouri||March 5, 1861||November 24, 1864||Abraham Lincoln|
|27||James Speed||Kentucky||December 2, 1864||July 22, 1866|
|28||Henry Stanbery||Ohio||July 23, 1866||July 16, 1868|
|29||William M. Evarts||New York||July 17, 1868||March 4, 1869|
|30||Ebenezer R. Hoar||Massachusetts||March 5, 1869||November 22, 1870||Ulysses S. Grant|
|31||Amos T. Akerman||Georgia||November 23, 1870||December 13, 1871|
|32||George Henry Williams||Oregon||December 14, 1871||April 25, 1875|
|33||Edwards Pierrepont||New York||April 26, 1875||May 21, 1876|
|34||Alphonso Taft||Ohio (born in Vermont)||May 22, 1876||March 4, 1877|
|35||Charles Devens||Massachusetts||March 12, 1877||March 4, 1881||Rutherford B. Hayes|
|36||Wayne MacVeagh||Pennsylvania||March 5, 1881||December 15, 1881||James A. Garfield|
|Chester A. Arthur|
|37||Benjamin H. Brewster||Pennsylvania||December 16, 1881||March 4, 1885|
|38||Augustus Garland||Arkansas||March 6, 1885||March 4, 1889||Grover Cleveland|
|39||William H. H. Miller||Indiana||March 7, 1889||March 4, 1893||Benjamin Harrison|
|40||Richard Olney||Massachusetts||March 6, 1893||April 7, 1895||Grover Cleveland|
|41||Judson Harmon||Ohio||April 8, 1895||March 4, 1897|
|42||Joseph McKenna||California||March 5, 1897||January 25, 1898||William McKinley|
|43||John W. Griggs||New Jersey||January 25, 1898||March 29, 1901|
|44||Philander C. Knox||Pennsylvania||April 5, 1901||June 30, 1904|
|45||William Henry Moody||Massachusetts||July 1, 1904||December 17, 1906|
|46||Charles Bonaparte||Maryland||December 17, 1906||March 4, 1909|
|47||George W. Wickersham||New York||March 4, 1909||March 4, 1913||William Howard Taft|
|48||James C. McReynolds||Tennessee||March 5, 1913||August 29, 1914||Woodrow Wilson|
|49||Thomas Watt Gregory||Texas||August 29, 1914||March 4, 1919|
|50||A. Mitchell Palmer||Pennsylvania||March 5, 1919||March 4, 1921|
|51||Harry M. Daugherty||Ohio||March 4, 1921||April 6, 1924||Warren G. Harding|
|52||Harlan F. Stone||New York||April 7, 1924||March 1, 1925|
|53||John G. Sargent||Vermont||March 7, 1925||March 4, 1929|
|54||William D. Mitchell||Minnesota||March 4, 1929||March 4, 1933||Herbert Hoover|
|55||Homer Stille Cummings||Connecticut||March 4, 1933||January 1, 1939||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|56||Frank Murphy||Michigan||January 2, 1939||January 18, 1940|
|57||Robert H. Jackson||New York||January 18, 1940||August 25, 1941|
|58||Francis Biddle||Pennsylvania||August 26, 1941||June 26, 1945|
|Harry S Truman|
|59||Tom C. Clark||Texas||June 27, 1945||July 26, 1949|
|60||J. Howard McGrath||Rhode Island||July 27, 1949||April 3, 1952|
|61||James P. McGranery||Pennsylvania||April 4, 1952||January 20, 1953|
|62||Herbert Brownell Jr.||New York||January 21, 1953||October 23, 1957||Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|63||William P. Rogers||Maryland||October 23, 1957||January 20, 1961|
|64||Robert F. Kennedy||Massachusetts||January 20, 1961||September 3, 1964||John F. Kennedy|
|Lyndon B. Johnson|
|65||Nicholas Katzenbach||Illinois||September 4, 1964||January 28, 1965|
|January 28, 1965||November 28, 1966|
|66||Ramsey Clark||Texas||November 28, 1966||March 10, 1967|
|March 10, 1967||January 20, 1969|
|67||John N. Mitchell||New York||January 20, 1969||February 15, 1972||Richard Nixon|
|68||Richard Kleindienst||Arizona||February 15, 1972||May 25, 1973|
|69||Elliot Richardson||Massachusetts||May 25, 1973||October 20, 1973|
|–|| Robert Bork |
|Pennsylvania||October 20, 1973||January 4, 1974|
|70||William B. Saxbe||Ohio||January 4, 1974||January 14, 1975|
|71||Edward H. Levi||Illinois||January 14, 1975||January 20, 1977|
|–|| Dick Thornburgh |
|Pennsylvania||January 20, 1977||January 26, 1977||Jimmy Carter|
|72||Griffin Bell||Georgia||January 26, 1977||August 16, 1979|
|73||Benjamin Civiletti||Maryland||August 16, 1979||January 19, 1981|
|74||William French Smith||California||January 23, 1981||February 25, 1985||Ronald Reagan|
|75||Edwin Meese||California||February 25, 1985||August 12, 1988|
|76||Dick Thornburgh||Pennsylvania||August 12, 1988||August 15, 1991|
|George H. W. Bush|
|77||William Barr||New York||August 16, 1991||November 26, 1991|
|November 26, 1991||January 20, 1993|
|–|| Stuart M. Gerson |
|Washington, D.C.||January 20, 1993||March 12, 1993||Bill Clinton|
|78||Janet Reno||Florida||March 12, 1993||January 20, 2001|
|–|| Eric Holder |
|Washington, D.C.||January 20, 2001||February 2, 2001||George W. Bush|
|79||John Ashcroft||Missouri||February 2, 2001||February 3, 2005|
|80||Alberto Gonzales||Texas||February 3, 2005||September 17, 2007|
|–|| Paul Clement |
|Washington, D.C.||September 17, 2007||September 18, 2007|
|–|| Peter Keisler |
|Washington, D.C.||September 18, 2007||November 9, 2007|
|81||Michael Mukasey||New York||November 9, 2007||January 20, 2009|
|–|| Mark Filip |
|Illinois||January 20, 2009||February 3, 2009||Barack Obama|
|82||Eric Holder||Washington, D.C.||February 3, 2009||April 27, 2015|
|83||Loretta Lynch||New York||April 27, 2015||January 20, 2017|
|–|| Sally Yates |
|Georgia||January 20, 2017||January 30, 2017||Donald Trump|
|–|| Dana Boente |
|Virginia||January 30, 2017||February 9, 2017|
|84||Jeff Sessions||Alabama||February 9, 2017||November 7, 2018|
|–|| Matthew Whitaker |
|Iowa||November 7, 2018||February 14, 2019|
|85||William Barr (2)||Virginia||February 14, 2019||Incumbent|
As of February 2019, there are ten, living former US Attorneys General, the oldest being Ramsey Clark (served 1967–1969, born 1927). The most recent Attorney General to die was Janet Reno on November 7, 2016 (served 1993–2001, born 1938)
|Name||Term of office||Date of birth (and age)|
|Ramsey Clark||1967–1969||December 18, 1927|
|Benjamin Civiletti||1979–1981||July 17, 1935|
|Edwin Meese||1985–1988||December 2, 1931|
|Dick Thornburgh||1988–1991||July 16, 1932|
|John Ashcroft||2001–2005||May 9, 1942|
|Alberto Gonzales||2005–2007||August 4, 1955|
|Michael Mukasey||2007–2009||July 28, 1941|
|Eric Holder||2009–2015||January 21, 1951|
|Loretta Lynch||2015–2017||May 21, 1959|
|Jeff Sessions||2017–2018||December 24, 1946|
U.S.C. Title 28, §508 establishes the first two positions in the line of succession, while allowing the Attorney General to designate other high-ranking officers of the Department of Justice as subsequent successors.Furthermore, an Executive Order defines subsequent positions, the most recent from March 31, 2017, signed by President Donald Trump. The current line of succession is:
The Solicitor General of the United States is the fourth-highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice. The current Solicitor General, Noel Francisco, took office on September 19, 2017.
The Office of Legal Counsel (OLC) is an office in the United States Department of Justice that assists the Attorney General's position as legal adviser to the President and all executive branch agencies.
The United States Deputy Attorney General is the second-highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice and oversees the day-to-day operation of the Department. The Deputy Attorney General acts as Attorney General during the absence of the Attorney General.
The Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation is the head of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the United States' primary federal law enforcement agency, and is responsible for its day-to-day operations. The FBI Director is appointed for a single 10-year term by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. The FBI is an agency within the Department of Justice (DOJ), and thus the Director reports to the Attorney General of the United States.
Matthew George Whitaker is an American lawyer, politician, who served as the Acting United States Attorney General from 2018 to 2019. He was appointed by President Donald Trump on November 7, 2018, after Jeff Sessions resigned at Trump's request. Whitaker previously served as Chief of Staff to Sessions from September 2017 to November 2018. Trump announced his nomination of William P. Barr for Attorney General on December 7, 2018, leaving Whitaker's future at the Department of Justice in doubt.
On December 7, 2006, the George W. Bush administration's Department of Justice ordered the midterm dismissal of seven United States Attorneys. Congressional investigations focused on whether the Department of Justice and the White House were using the U.S. Attorney positions for political advantage. Allegations were that some of the attorneys were targeted for dismissal to impede investigations of Republican politicians or that some were targeted for their failure to initiate investigations that would damage Democratic politicians or hamper Democratic-leaning voters. The U.S. attorneys were replaced with interim appointees, under provisions in the 2005 USA PATRIOT Act reauthorization.
William W. Mercer was a United States Attorney for the District of Montana, as well as Principal Associate Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice. In September 2006, Mercer was nominated by George W. Bush as Associate Attorney General, served as Acting Associate Attorney General until June 22, 2007; he resigned from that position days before his confirmation hearing was to take place and returned to his United States attorney position in Montana.
A detailed chronology of events in the dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy.
Stuart Michael Gerson was the acting Attorney General (AG) during the Clinton Administration, serving in the early months of 1993.
Rod Jay Rosenstein is an American attorney serving as United States Deputy Attorney General since 2017. Prior to his current appointment, he served as a United States Attorney for the District of Maryland. At the time of his confirmation as Deputy Attorney General in April 2017, he was the nation's longest-serving U.S. Attorney. Rosenstein had also been nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2007, but his nomination was never considered by the U.S. Senate.
The Federal Vacancies Reform Act of 1998, et seq., is a United States law that establishes the procedure for a filling a vacancy in an appointed officer of an executive agency during the time before a permanent replacement is appointed.
Dana James Boente is the former United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia. He also served as acting assistant attorney general for the National Security Division of the United States Department of Justice. On October 27, 2017, Boente announced he would resign from the Department of Justice after a successor is in place. On January 23, 2018, Boente was named general counsel to the FBI by the director Christopher A. Wray, filling the vacancy after James Baker's reassignment to another part of the bureau.
Executive Order 13775 is the eleventh executive order signed by U.S. President Donald Trump. Signed on February 9, 2017, the order changes the line of succession for the Department of Justice (DOJ). This order specifically reverses changes made to the DOJ line of succession that former President Barack Obama made in executive order 13762.
Steven Andrew Engel is an American lawyer who is the United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Counsel in the Donald Trump administration. Engel, who previously worked in the George W. Bush administration as Deputy Assistant Attorney General in the Office of Legal Counsel, was nominated by President Donald Trump on January 31, 2017, and confirmed on November 7, 2017.
George Thomas Conway III is an American attorney and a graduate of Harvard College and Yale Law School. He clerked for a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit before becoming a partner at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz.
Makan Delrahim is an Iranian-American lawyer who serves as Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.
Brian Allen Benczkowski is an American lawyer who currently serves as the Assistant Attorney General for the Criminal Division of the United States Department of Justice. Prior to assuming his current role, he was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis.
Jessie Kong Liu is an American attorney who is the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. She previously worked as deputy general counsel at the U.S. Treasury and served at the Justice Department.
Beth Ann Williams is an American lawyer who is the United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy. In her role as Assistant Attorney General, Williams serves as the primary policy advisor to the United States Attorney General and the United States Deputy Attorney General. Prior to assuming her current post, she was a partner at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis.
Jay B. Stephens is an American attorney who served as President George W. Bush's first Associate Attorney General.
January 20, 1993 – March 12, 1993 Stuart M. Gerson (acting) (b. 1944)
As supporters of the Brady gun-control bill prepare to introduce it in Congress yet again this week, they find a welcome, if unlikely, ally in Stuart Gerson, the Acting Attorney General. Because President Clinton has had so many problems finding a new Attorney General, Mr. Gerson remains in office...
She will replace Acting Attorney General Stuart M. Gerson, a holdover appointee from the Bush Administration. Ms. Reno said he resigned today.
|U.S. order of precedence (ceremonial)|
as Secretary of Defense
| Order of Precedence of the United States |
as Attorney General
as Secretary of the Interior
|U.S. presidential line of succession|
Secretary of Defense
|7th in line||Succeeded by|
Secretary of the Interior