Durbin Statement On Senate Confirmation Of Brian Benczkowski

Durbin: “In charge of 600 federal prosecutors and he’s never tried a case.”

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement after the Senate voted to approve the controversial nomination of Brian Benczkowski to lead the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) Criminal Division:  

I cannot believe the Republican Party just rubber-stamped a nominee to head the Justice Department’s Criminal Division who has no prosecutorial experience, who chose to represent a Russian bank with deep ties to Vladimir Putin, and who would not commit to recuse himself from Russia-related matters if confirmed.  This could prove to be a historic mistake.

While he was seeking a DOJ position after leading the Trump DOJ transition team in 2017, Mr. Benczkowski chose to represent Alfa Bank, a massive private commercial bank in Russia closely allied with President Vladimir Putin, and he has refused to pledge to recuse himself from Russia-related matters. In a speech on the Senate floor, Durbin argued that Mr. Benczkowski, a former top aide to then-Senator Jeff Sessions, does not have the prosecutorial experience and has not shown the independence and judgment to credibly lead the Criminal Division and oversee its 600 career prosecutors who are handling sensitive matters, such as the criminal investigation of Michael Cohen. In May, Senator Durbin led a letter to President Trump calling for him to withdraw Mr. Benczkowski’s nomination and name a qualified nominee.  This letter did not receive a response.