- The Washington Times
Monday, December 16, 2019

The Justice Department official who served as the main liaison to former special counsel Robert Mueller’s team will step down later this month, the department announced Monday.

Edward O’Callaghan, who supervised the special counsel team during its 22-month investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election, voluntarily resigned from his position as associate deputy attorney general, according to the department.

It was Mr. O’Callaghan’s second tour of duty at the Justice Department and it lasted about two years.

Officials at the department did not give a reason for his departure. However, people tend to last only about two years in that position, which is extremely demanding but opens the doors to high-paying jobs in the private sector.

Mr. O’Callaghan will be succeeded by Seth DuCharme, who is currently a counsel to Attorney General William Barr. Mr. O’Callaghan will step down Friday, with Mr. DuCharme taking the reins Dec. 23.

Mr. DuCharme formerly headed the criminal division in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, where he worked on some of the office’s most high-profile cases, including investigations into Huawei, drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman and several terrorism prosecutions.

Mr. O’Callaghan played a critical role, with Mr. Barr and former Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, in determining that President Trump did not commit obstruction of justice during the Mueller probe of Russia collusion. He also worked to make as much as Mr. Mueller’s voluminous report available to the public as possible.

The Russia probe, which ended this year, found that neither Mr. Trump nor any member of his campaign conspired with Russia to influence the 2016 presidential election. Although Mr. Mueller did not say if Mr. Trump obstructed the investigation, the president was cleared by Mr. Barr.

“Ed is one of the most highly regarded lawyers at the Department of Justice,” Mr. Barr said in a statement. “His dedication and tireless commitment to the work of the department is second to none. Ed possesses a rare combination of sharp intellect, common sense and sound judgment — traits that served him well from his time as a prosecutor in the Southern District of New York to his service at the highest levels of the department.”

Deputy Attorney General Jeffrey Rosen called Mr. DuCharme “a dedicated public servant.”

“Seth’s sharp intellect, quick thinking and excellent judgment have greatly benefited all who have worked with him,” Mr. Rosen said in a statement. “His deep experience in areas ranging from narcotics trafficking and cybercrime to terrorism and public corruption will be an asset to the Office of Deputy Attorney General.”

Mr. DuCharme made headlines in New York for modernizing law enforcement’s efforts to combat Islamic extremist radicalization among youth. He pushed for early intervention and counseling services for youths who expressed interest in terrorist groups such as the Islamic State, better known as ISIS, but did not merit prosecution.

In October. Mr. DuCharme spearheaded a Justice Department initiative to disrupt the increase in mass shootings across the United States.

Mr. O’Callaghan also had high-profile cases under his belt.

During a stint at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan, he was part of the team that investigated the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

He entered private practice in 2008 and defended former Republican running mate Sarah Palin, who was accused of improperly firing a member of the Alaska State Troopers.

Mr. O’Callaghan returned to the Justice Department in 2017, leading its national security division. He was elevated to his current position in 2018.

In May, Mr. O’Callaghan temporarily served as acting deputy attorney general in the wake of Mr. Rosenstein’s departure from the department. He held the position until Mr. Rosen was confirmed by the Senate a few weeks later.

He was considered this year as a potential replacement for current U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie K. Liu. Ms. Liu had been nominated for the No. 3 position at the Justice Department, but that plan was scuttled when it seemed clear her nomination wouldn’t pass the Senate. President Trump this month nominated her to be the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial crimes.

Mr. O’Callaghan’s name was floated in October as a successor for Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for Manhattan, according to a CNN report.

The report said Mr. O’Callaghan was mulled as a replacement in case Mr. Berman landed in the president’s crosshairs for his high-profile investigations of Trump fixer Michael Cohen. Mr. Berman’s office also is prosecuting two associates of Mr. Trump’s personal attorney, former New York City Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

• Jeff Mordock can be reached at jmordock@washingtontimes.com.

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