Bush nominees for NJ federal courts include prosecutor in Abramoff probe | VailDaily.com

Bush nominees for NJ federal courts include prosecutor in Abramoff probe

WASHINGTON – President Bush on Wednesday nominated one of the Justice Department’s lead prosecutors in the Jack Abramoff corruption probe to a U.S. District Court seat.Noel Hillman, chief of the department’s public integrity section, was nominated for the federal judgeship in New Jersey, where he served in the U.S. Attorney’s office under Michael Chertoff, now secretary of Homeland Security.The White House was poised to nominate Hillman last summer, after New Jersey’s two Democratic senators took the opportunity to weigh in on Hillman and other nominees in exchange for lifting their objections to another candidate Bush had nominated in 2003.White House spokeswoman Erin Healy said the president makes all his nominations in a timely manner and was ready to move forward with these, adding that Bush was pleased to work with Sen. Frank Lautenberg and former Sen. Jon Corzine, now governor of New Jersey.Hillman will step down as chief of the public integrity unit next week, but remain in the Justice Department’s criminal division until he is confirmed, a department official said. Andrew Lourie, a career prosecutor in Miami, will lead the public corruption-fighting office on a temporary basis, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he is not authorized to discuss personnel matters.Lourie performed the same role until Hillman took over early in 2003.During a news conference earlier this month following Abramoff’s guilty plea on corruption-related charges, Assistant Attorney General Alice Fisher said Hillman played an important role in providing leadership in the investigation.Hillman came to Washington in 2001. Before that, he was an assistant U.S. attorney in New Jersey from 1992 to 2001, coming in while Chertoff was the U.S. attorney.Last summer, Corzine and Lautenberg signed off on the nominations of Hillman and two others nominated to judgeships in New Jersey on Wednesday. They gave the OK as part of an agreement to lift their objections to Bush’s nomination of Republican activist Peter Sheridan to the federal bench.Other nominations Wednesday included:- Lawyer Michael Chagares of New Jersey for the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Pennsylvania. He would replace Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, who left that court Feb. 15, 2005, to work for the Bush administration.- The renomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.The White House’s staff secretary and former associate independent counsel under Kenneth Starr, Kavanaugh has been waiting for a Senate vote since he was nominated in 2003.Vail, Colorado

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