The Trump White House has sent its pick to fill the vacant U.S. Attorney seat in Chicago, former prosecutor John Lausch, to a panel created by Illinois Democratic Senators Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth for screening.
Trump will nominate Lausch if he passes muster with the screening committee Durbin and Duckworth created to help fill the Northern District of Illinois top prosecutor’s vacancy.
Though Republicans control the Senate and White House, Senate tradition gives home state senators the power to block a nominee from advancing to the Senate Judiciary Committee, which gives Durbin and Duckworth a pivotal role in the selection process.
Lausch, a partner at Kirkland & Ellis LLP, worked as a federal prosecutor in Chicago for more than 11 years and served as a supervisor in the U.S. attorney’s office between 2005 and 2010. He tried more than 20 criminal jury cases and led the prosecution of several corrupt cops about 10 years ago.
Lausch also once served as the violent crime coordinator in the U.S. attorney’s office and led the Anti-Gang and Project Safe Neighborhoods programs — clearly valuable experience for a top fed candidate at a time when officials have struggled to get a handle on the bloodshed in Chicago.
In fact, the clearest criteria officials have articulated for the next U.S. attorney is someone who will “root out corruption and stop the violence in Chicago.”
Lausch now specializes in government enforcement defense and internal investigations at Kirkland. He represented BP in litigation related to the Deepwater Horizon oil rig explosion, and he has led confidential internal investigations for companies revolving around health care fraud, environmental crimes and the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.
He also lectures at the University of Chicago Law School.
Lausch also interviewed for the U.S. attorney job five years ago. But Zachary Fardon was ultimately chosen to replace former U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald. Fardon held the job for more than three years before U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked 46 U.S. attorneys appointed under former President Barack Obama’s administration to resign. Fardon was one of them.
The U.S. Attorney’s office in Chicago has now been led for more than three months by acting U.S. Attorney Joel Levin. The other candidates considered to permanently replace Fardon included Michael Scudder and Andrew Porter, sources have said.