David Margolis, the U.S. Justice Department’s former senior career prosecutor, died Tuesday at 76 after putting in 51 years of service, NPR reports. He touched nearly every major case and controversy for a generation or more. Margolis arrived as “hot-shot pursuing organized crime and drug cartels in the late 1960s and 1970s,” NPR says. He ended up as a fearless troubleshooter for political appointees.
His friend, FBI Director James Comey, says Margolis “was the United States Department of Justice.” Margolis made judgments about which prosecutors should face discipline. Critics are still angry about his decision not to punish lawyers who approved waterboarding and other brutal interrogation during the George W. Bush years. They also say Margolis went soft on prosecutors who engaged in misconduct in the prosecution of the late Sen. Ted Stevens (R-Ak).