Biden taps Vanessa Avery to replace John Durham

In a move designed to fill the vacancy that emerged when now-Special Counsel John Durham resigned as U.S. attorney for Connecticut near the start of 2021, President Joe Biden has now tapped Vanessa Avery for the role of that state’s top federal law enforcement official, according to the Hartford Courant.

Currently serving as head of the Division of Enforcement and Public Protection for the attorney general’s office in Connecticut, Avery has also spent time as an assistant attorney general in the same office, the Washington Examiner reports.

In addition to those roles, Avery’s background includes time working as an assistant U.S. attorney in Connecticut, duty inside the Justice Department Civil Division’s Commercial Litigation Branch, and a period of years as a private practice litigation lawyer.

Should Avery’s confirmation process go as expected, she will become the first Black woman to hold the position, and will take the reins from Leonard Boyle, who has served in the post on an interim basis since Durham’s departure and subsequent leadership of a far-reaching probe into the origins of the Russian collusion investigation that consumed much of former President Donald Trump’s term in office.

The nomination of Avery to the position was announced together with five other picks to fill vacant U.S. attorney positions in locales across the country, as noted by a White House press release.

“These individuals were chosen for the devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice, the release declared.

The president’s decision to tap Avery for the role received praise from her current boss, Connecticut Attorney General William Tong, who was quoted as saying, “She is universally respected by every colleague she has worked with and has deep connections across the Connecticut legal community.”

Connecticut Gov. Ned Lamont (D) agreed with Tong’s take, saying, according to the Courant, “It’s a really good choice – I talked with the senators about it and they’re very enthusiastic. I think it’s a good thing for Connecticut.”

In the words of Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Avery is “a proven prosecutor – tough and fair – who has deep roots in her community and a lifetime of service,” and he noted his belief that “she’ll follow the facts and law to deter and punish wrongdoers and fight discrimination” as well as his expectation that her confirmation process will draw “strong bipartisan support.”