Attorney General Jeff Sessions is recommending the White House nominate Washington, D.C., labor lawyer Eric Dreiband to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division, NPR reports. Dreiband represents companies at the law firm Jones Day, where his partners included Donald McGahn, now White House counsel. Dreiband served as the top lawyer at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission under President George W. Bush and previously worked in the office of Independent Counsel Kenneth Starr, where he led the investigation and successful prosecution of Bill Clinton associate Webster Hubbell. In private practice, Dreiband has defended R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., in an age discrimination case; Bloomberg, against pregnancy discrimination claims; and CVS Pharmacy.
The Justice Department under President Trump has already reversed course on oversight of local police departments, guidance for schools governing bathroom and locker room use for transgender students, and voting rights cases initiated during the Obama administration. Conservative veterans of the division, which marks its 60th anniversary this year, have written to Sessions to criticize the Obama administration’s record on civil rights and concluded “it’s time to make changes,” such as rooting out “ideological rot” among “career bureaucrats.” The civil rights division generates controversy no matter which political party holds the White House. The Senate rejected Obama nominee Debo Adegbileafter lawmakers derided a legal brief he had filed on behalf of convicted cop killer Mumia Abu Jamal. The Obama team never formally submitted a nomination for American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Vanita Gupta, who led the civil rights unit through investigations of police in Ferguson, Mo.; Baltimore and Chicago.