U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder swore in four of the Justice Department’s top leaders in the Great Hall at Main Justice Friday. The new Assistant Attorney Generals are Lanny Breuer (Criminal Division), David Kris (National Security Division), Tony West (Civil Division) and Christine Varney (Antitrust Division).
The first to be sworn in was Kris, who was an Associate Deputy Attorney General for national security issues from 2000 to 2003. Referring to his work the past six years as deputy general counsel, chief compliance and ethics officer at Time Warner Inc., Kris said: “For me, the private sector represented a combination of less work, less stress, and more money than government.” (laughter). “But when I had the chance to return, I did not hesitate. I knew the other side of the bargain was work that was incredibly important.”
Next up was Breuer, who was a partner at Covington & Burling with Holder and has served in the Manhattan District Attorney’s office and in the Clinton White House counsel’s office. Breuer talked about how his parents had immigrated to the United States, “fleeing Nazi tyranny,” and how his mother “had lost her entire family.” “But our home in Queens was an uplifting home – it was a home that had a great love and admiration for everything this country represents.”
West was a partner at Morrison & Foerster. From 1993 to 1994, he was a Special Assistant in the Clinton DOJ under Deputy Attorneys General Philip Heymann and Jamie Gorelick and Attorney General Janet Reno, working on the 1994 Omnibus Crime Bill. “In these uncertain times, your task has become increasingly difficult,” he told Holder after his swearing in. “But I share your commitment, and together we will work to defend the safety of the American people.”
Varney came last. As Kris did, the former Hogan & Hartson partner joked about the loss of private sector pay, and she thanked her husband, Tom Graham, for all his support. As the DOJ’s top competition enforcer, she quoted the late U.S. Justice Thurgood Marshall: “Antitrust laws are the Magna Carta of free enterprise.”