Longtime DOJ official overseeing Trump-Russia probe to step down

One of the top officials at the Justice Department overseeing the FBI’s probe of potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the presidential election will leave the department next month.

Mary McCord — a career prosecutor for over 20 years — has been serving as acting assistant attorney general at the National Security Division since John Carlin, an Obama appointee, resigned last fall. McCord joined the division as a non-political appointee in 2014 as the principal deputy assistant attorney general from the US Attorney’s Office in DC.

Justice Department spokesperson Marc Raimondi confirmed that McCord informed DOJ leadership of her departure on Monday, but per department protocols, she did not reveal in an email to staff what she will do next.

McCord has held one of the more demanding jobs within the department, as the national security division handles counterterrorism and counterespionage prosecutions, as well as Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) warrants.

Last month, FBI Director James Comey publicly confirmed for the first time that his agency has been investigating possible “coordination” between Russia and the Trump campaign, and whether any crimes may have been committed as part of a wider probe into the hacking of Democratic servers and Hillary Clinton’s campaign.

Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente is currently tasked with overseeing any such investigation, as Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself last month from any existing or future investigations into Trump’s campaign or transition.

While the Justice Department has not shared who will stand in for McCord until her replacement is announced, former DOJ officials say don’t expect her departure to impede any current investigations overseen by the national security division. Unlike some other sectors, the NSD is widely considered one of the least political divisions within DOJ and by design — as there is only one political appointee (who serves in the top position as the assistant attorney general) and there hasn’t been a political appointee in that position at DOJ since last fall (once Carlin left).

“The people around Mary and other senior officials are deeply experienced, career professionals,” said Luke Dembosky, who served as former deputy assistant attorney general at the NSD under McCord and is now a partner at Debevoise & Plimpton.

“Career prosecutors know how to keep their foot on the gas on these cases,” he added. “They are not going to slow down at all.”

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