Md. lead­ers hope long­time U.S. at­tor­ney con­tin­ues in role

Bi­par­ti­san sup­port ex­pressed for re­tain­ing Rosen­stein

Baltimore Sun - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Rec­tor

Law en­force­ment of­fi­cials and elected lead­ers in Mary­land are ex­press­ing bi­par­ti­san hope — and con­fi­dence — that U.S. At­tor­ney Rod J. Rosen­stein will con­tinue in his role as the state’s top fed­eral prose­cu­tor un­der Pres­i­dent-elect Don­ald J. Trump.

Rosen­stein — cur­rently the na­tion’s long­est-serv­ing U.S. at­tor­ney — was ap­pointed by Repub­li­can Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush in 2005 and re­mained on the job un­der Demo­cratic Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, in part on the strength of his rep­u­ta­tion as a se­ri­ous pro­fes­sional and “straight shooter.”

That rep­u­ta­tion has sur­vived the last eight years, of­fi­cials said, and should serve him again as Trump’s tran­si­tion team re­views po­lit­i­cal ap­point­ments.

“He has the con­fi­dence of Democrats and Re­pub­li­cans,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, a Demo­crat. “He’s earned the con­fi­dence, the trust, of the lead­ers of lo­cal gov­ern­ment, of law en­force­ment, those in the

le­gal com­mu­nity. So he’s well re­spected.”

Rosen­stein de­clined to com­ment on his fu­ture.

If he does stick around, of­fi­cials said, it will ben­e­fit the fight against crime in Mary­land and in Bal­ti­more — where Rosen­stein has de­vel­oped a rep­u­ta­tion for go­ing af­ter vi­o­lent crim­i­nal gangs such as the Black Guer­rilla Fam­ily and root­ing out cor­rup­tion in state cor­rec­tional fa­cil­i­ties.

Bal­ti­more Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Kevin Davis has known Rosen­stein since Davis was a po­lice of­fi­cer in Prince Ge­orge’s County. Rosen­stein se­cured a cor­rup­tion con­vic­tion against Prince Ge­orge’s County Ex­ec­u­tive Jack John­son in 2011.

“I’m hope­ful that Rod will re­main in Bal­ti­more, re­main in Mary­land,” Davis said. “He’s al­ways been a sup­porter of lo­cal law en­force­ment. He un­der­stands the needs of lo­cal law en­force­ment.”

Bal­ti­more State’s At­tor­ney Mar­i­lyn J. Mosby called Rosen­stein “an ef­fec­tive prose­cu­tor.”

“I’m ap­pre­cia­tive of the strong part­ner­ship that my of­fice and the United States at­tor­ney’s of­fice has played in the ap­pre­hen­sion and con­vic­tion of some of our most vi­o­lent crim­i­nals,” she said. “The ne­ces­sity for con­ti­nu­ity in our fight against crime in Bal­ti­more City is crit­i­cal for the fu­ture of pub­lic safety, and I hope to con­tinue this part­ner­ship with Rod at the helm.”

Trump and his ad­vis­ers have be­gun the process of nam­ing some 4,000 po­lit­i­cal ap­pointees to staff his ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Heavy turnover is as­sumed in the high­est lev­els of the De­part­ment of Jus­tice. Trump has cho­sen Sen. Jeff Ses­sions, a con­ser­va­tive for­mer fed­eral prose­cu­tor from Alabama, as at­tor­ney gen­eral, a pick seen as sig­nal­ing a sharp shift in pol­icy di­rec­tion in an agency that has ag­gres­sively pur­sued civil rights vi­o­la­tions and crim­i­nal jus­tice re­form un­der Obama.

It gen­er­ally takes time for a new ad­min­is­tra­tion to re­place U.S. at­tor­neys, and many top prose­cu­tors have re­tained their posts through changes in the White House.

“I can’t speak to what Pres­i­dent-elect Trump is look­ing for in a U.S. at­tor­ney,” said Sen.-elect Chris Van Hollen, a Demo­crat. “But Mr. Rosen­stein has served Bal­ti­more and Mary­land well un­der both Demo­cratic and Repub­li­can pres­i­dents.”

Rosen­stein, 51, a Har­vard­trained lawyer who lives in Be- thesda, rose quickly in the Jus­tice De­part­ment. He started in 1990 as a trial at­tor­ney with the pub­lic in­tegrity sec­tion of the crim­i­nal di­vi­sion un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush. He served as coun­sel to the deputy at­tor­ney gen­eral, an as­so­ciate in­de­pen­dent coun­sel and an as­sis­tant U.S. at­tor­ney un­der Pres­i­dent Bill Clin­ton, and prin­ci­pal deputy as­sis­tant at­tor­ney gen­eral for the tax di­vi­sion un­der Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush.

The Se­nate voted unan­i­mously in 2005 to con­firm his nom­i­na­tion as U.S. at­tor­ney for Mary­land.

In 2006, he was vet­ted for a va­cancy on the U.S. Court of Ap­peals for the 4th Cir­cuit in Rich­mond, Va., be­fore the ap­point­ment stalled. Then-Sens. Bar­bara A. Mikul­ski and Paul S. Sar­banes, both Democrats, whose en­dorse­ment would have helped him, said at the time that he lacked the ex­pe­ri­ence for the job — but Mikul­ski of­fered a dif­fer­ent kind of sup­port.

“Rod Rosen­stein is do­ing a good job as the U.S. at­tor­ney in Mary­land,” she said, “and that’s where we need him.”

Mikul­ski’s of­fice did not re­spond to a re­quest for com­ment for this ar­ti­cle.

Rosen­stein has of­ten ap­peared be­fore banks of cam­eras, and thus be­fore Mary­land’s res­i­dents, to an­nounce large in­dict­ments — in­clud­ing those in 2013 against Black Guer­rilla Fam­ily gang mem­bers, in­mates and cor­rec­tions of­fi­cers who or­ches­trated a mas­sive con­tra­band smug­gling scheme in­side the Bal­ti­more City De­ten­tion Cen­ter.

Rosen­stein was at it again last month, an­nounc­ing the in­dict­ment of 80 in­mates, cor­rec­tional of­fi­cers and others al­legedly in­volved in a crim­i­nal con­spir­acy to sneak drugs and other con­tra­band into the East­ern Cor­rec­tional In­sti­tu­tion in Westover.

Stephen T. Moyer, sec­re­tary of the state cor­rec­tions de­part­ment, called Rosen­stein “a man of im­pec­ca­ble in­tegrity and one of the most re­spected law en­force­ment of­fi­cials in Mary­land.”

A spokesman for Repub­li­can Gov. Larry Ho­gan said the gov­er­nor and his ad­min­is­tra­tion “have had a very strong and pro­duc­tive work­ing re­la­tion­ship” with Rosen­stein.

Ho­gan “greatly re­spects him and the work he does,” spokesman Dou­glass Mayer said.

Cardin praised Rosen­stein for plac­ing a “high pri­or­ity on gangs, which is some­thing we wanted him to do.” He called Rosen­stein “a good per­son” who op­er­ates at “the high­est pro­fes­sional level.”

Davis said Rosen­stein has given him sup­port since the civil un­rest and the surge in homi­cides in Bal­ti­more last year.

Davis said Rosen­stein has helped him pros­e­cute “trig­ger pullers” in the city and se­cure longer fed­eral prison terms for re­peat of­fend­ers.

“In those mo­ments over the last 18 months that have been the very, very tough­est, I was al­ways in rou­tine con­tact with Rod, and he’s al­ways been re­ally re­spon­sive,” Davis said.

Un­like some fed­eral prose­cu­tors, Davis said, Rosen­stein un­der­stands “the urgency that lo­cal po­lice de­part­ments face when it comes to crime trends and pat­terns and the need to quickly bring peo­ple to jus­tice” — and the city has ben­e­fited.

Cardin said keep­ing Rosen­stein in his po­si­tion “would cer­tainly be a sign of sta­bil­ity” for the many strong re­la­tion­ships he has built over the years with lo­cal elected lead­ers, po­lice and other law en­force­ment of­fi­cials.

“Rod is a known quan­tity,” Cardin said, “and very well liked.”

Rod J. Rosen­stein

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