Garland called his decision to return to private practice “bittersweet,” but said it was difficult to maintain the pace of his Justice Department job with his three young children.
“In this job, the schedule is so crisis driven, so emergency driven, you don’t have the ability in a real practical sense to plan your life, to plan your day,” Garland told the NLJ. “The pace of this job is like nothing I’ve ever known. It’s not sustainable for the long run with a family. The person who gets that most of all is the attorney general. He was supportive of my decision.”
Holder praised Garland’s work, pointing to his efforts on financial fraud, antitrust and intellectual property law.
Garland has been “instrumental in helping to reinvigorate the department’s core missions and re-establish its reputation for independence,” Holder said. “I’m grateful for his wise counsel, as well as his friendship, his sense of humor, and his tremendous respect for the work he’s helped to advance. Jim has served the Department of Justice—and his country—well, and we will truly miss him.”
In an interview with the newspaper last week, Garland described his time at the Justice Department as “an incredible life experience.”
Garland was born in Columbus, Ohio and graduated from Columbus Academy before heading to Princeton’s Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs. After graduation, he took a job with Price Waterhouse (now PricewaterhouseCoopers). After two years, Garland enrolled at the University of Virginia School of Law.
He worked as a summer associate at Covington during law school and later clerked for Appeals Judge R. Guy Cole of the 6th Circuit. When he returned to Covington in 2001, Garland worked as a litigator on commercial cases, antitrust issues and white-collar criminal defense, often working directly with Holder, then a partner at Covington.
Because his job did not require Senate confirmation, Garland was part of the so-called “Day One Group” at the Justice Department, according to WhoRunsGov.com. After President Barack Obama took his oath of office, Garland and a handful of other political appointees also took their oaths and started work.
At the Justice Department, Garland handled antitrust issues, state and local law enforcement, and all criminal matters not related to national security. He served as the Attorney General’s point man for the department response to the economic crisis and advised Holder about when the federal government should seek the death penalty.
Garland is not the first top Holder aide to announce his departure; national security adviser Amy Jeffress is also leaving her position to become the Justice Department’s attaché at the U.S. Embassy in London.
Read the full interview with The National Law Journal here.
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The top national security counselor to Attorney General Eric Holder has been named the Department of Justice Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in London, a Justice Department spokesman confirmed to Main Justice.
Amy Jeffress, who joined the Attorney General’s office the day after President Barack Obama was inaugurated, will make the move overseas later this summer, Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller said. He said a replacement for Jeffress has not yet been named.
“It has been a great privilege to work for the Attorney General on these important issues, but the chance to continue working for the department in this unique position in London is a rare opportunity that I could not pass up,” Jeffress said in a statement.
The departure of Jeffress comes as the Obama administration’s plan to close Guantanamo Bay has slowed to a near halt and national security matters have proven to be among the most difficult issues Holder has confronted during his tenure.
In her capacity as Holder’s counselor, Jeffress set up three inter-agency task forces to review the cases of Guantanamo Bay detainees. The task force finalized a report on the detainees in January, and the report was sent to Congress in late May.
Jeffress told The New Yorker that the challenge of figuring out what to do with the detainees was much greater than expected. “There was no file for each detainee,” she said. The Bush administration clearly “hadn’t planned on prosecuting anyone. Instead, it was ‘Let’s take a shortcut and put them in Guantanamo’.”
Jeffress previously served as chief of the National Security Section of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the District of Columbia, where she oversaw terrorism and espionage investigations and prosecutions. Between 1996 and 2009, she served as an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the D.C. U.S. Attorney’s office. She served as counsel to the Deputy Attorney General from 1994 to 1996 and as counsel in the Department of Defense Office of General Counsel in 1993 and 1994. She clerked for the U.S. District Judge Gerhard A. Gesell from 1992 to 1993. She received her law degree from Yale Law School and her bachelor’s degree from Williams College. She also earned a master’s degree in political science from the Free University of Berlin.
Jeffress comes from a family of lawyers: her father is white-collar lawyer William Jeffress, a partner at Baker Botts LLP who was part of the legal team that represented Lewis “Scooter” Libby. Her brother Jonathan Jeffress is a public defender in the D.C. Public Defender’s office.
This post has been updated.
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Following closely in the footsteps of White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs, Justice Department spokesman Matthew A. Miller has joined the micro-blogging site Twitter.
With a mix of personal and political posts, Miller recently used his new account to push back at former Bush White House Press Secretary Dana Perino for leaving out a key fact in a recent opinion piece critical of DOJ’s terror policies.
“@DanaPerino You know the 20% recidivism rate were all detainees rlsd by admin for which u were the spox, right? Notice u left that out,” wrote Miller about Perino’s National Review Online post criticizing the Justice Department and National Security Adviser John A. Brennan for saying a 20 percent recidivism rate “isn’t that bad.”
In an interview with Main Justice, Miller said he joined Twitter months ago after the Justice Department created an account. He began mostly as an observer but only recently began writing on the personal account a few weeks back. Miller said his Twittering habit was not a result of Gibbs’ presence.
Perino’s opinion piece was “wrong enough to deserve a correction,” Miller told Main Justice.
Many posts on Miller’s account have to do with his beloved Texas Long Horns, but he has occasionally dived into the political arena, highlighting stories about the Justice Department by The Associated Press and The New York Times.
Among others, Miller is following former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, The New York Times’ Charlie Savage, rapper Eminem, The Onion satirical newspaper, political strategist Karl Rove, NBC’s Chuck Todd, Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, Mike Allen of Politico, and of course, @TheJusticeDept.
He even corresponded with Salon’s Greenwald, writing about the controversy over civilian trials for terrorism suspects that it would be “Longer answer than  characters will allow, @ggreenwald, but we use every tool available to keep the American people safe.”
Miller has developed what he called somewhat of an obsession with Twitter, calling it a useful tool for “paying attention to what is going on in the world.” Often, he said, he finds out about breaking news via Twitter before he receives a breaking news e-mail.
“I doubt I’ll be a frequent - what do they call it - Twitterer? Tweeter? - but I’ll Tweet from time to time,” said Miller.
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Statement of Matthew Miller, Director, Office of Public Affairs, on Interrogation and Prosecution of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab
Since September 11, 2022, every terrorism suspect apprehended in the United States by either the Bush administration or the Obama administration has been initially arrested, held or charged under federal criminal law. Al Qaeda terrorists such as Richard Reid, Zacarias Moussaoui and others have all been prosecuted in federal court, and the arrest and charging of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was handled no differently. Those who now argue that a different action should have been taken in this case were notably silent when dozens of terrorists were successfully prosecuted in federal court by the previous administration.
In the hours immediately after Abdulmutallab allegedly attempted to detonate an explosive device on board a Northwest Airlines flight, FBI agents who responded to the scene interrogated him and obtained intelligence that has already proved useful in the fight against Al Qaeda. It was only later that day, after the interrogation had already yielded intelligence, that he was read his Miranda rights. After the Department informed the President’s national security team about its planned course of action, Abdulmutallab was charged in criminal court.
Trying Abdulmutallab in federal court does not prevent us from obtaining additional intelligence from him. He has already provided intelligence, and we will continue to work to gather intelligence from him, as the Department has done repeatedly in past cases. Most recently, David Headley, who has been indicted in Chicago for helping plan the 2008 Mumbai attacks, has given us information of enormous intelligence value. Furthermore, neither detaining Abdulmutallab under the laws of war or referring him for prosecution in military commissions would force him to divulge intelligence or necessarily prevent him from obtaining an attorney.
The Department of Justice, working with the intelligence community and the President’s national security team, is committed to using every tool available to defeat terrorists and keep the American people safe. It will always be a top priority in these cases to obtain intelligence that can be used in the fight against Al Qaeda around the world. We will be pragmatic, not ideological, in that fight, and we will let results, not rhetoric, guide our actions.