United States Deputy Attorney General

The United States Deputy Attorney General is the second highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice and oversees the day-to-day operation of the Department. The deputy attorney general acts as attorney general during the absence of the attorney general.

The deputy attorney general is a political appointee of the President of the United States and takes office after confirmation by the United States Senate. The position was created in 1950.[1] Since April 26, 2017, Rod Rosenstein has been deputy attorney general.

United States Deputy Attorney General
Seal of the United States Department of Justice
Seal of the Department of Justice
Rod Rosenstein headshot
Rod Rosenstein

since April 26, 2017
United States Department of Justice
StyleMr. Deputy Attorney General
StatusChief operating officer
Reports toUnited States Attorney General
SeatDepartment of Justice Headquarters, Washington, D.C.
AppointerThe President
with Senate advice and consent
FormationMay 24, 1950
First holderPeyton Ford
SalaryExecutive Schedule, level II

2007 turnover

On May 14, 2007 Paul McNulty, then deputy attorney general, announced his resignation in a letter to Attorney General Alberto Gonzales.[2] At the time, McNulty was considered "the highest-ranking Bush administration casualty in the furor over the firing of U.S. attorneys." [3] Later, Gonzales himself would resign.

On July 18, 2007 President Bush announced his appointment of Craig S. Morford as acting deputy attorney general. Morford had been serving as the U.S. attorney in Nashville, Tennessee, and was known for his successful prosecution of former Ohio Representative James Traficant on bribery charges.[4]

List of United States Deputy Attorneys General

# Image Name Term Began Term Ended President(s) served under
1 Peyton Ford 1950 1951[5] Harry S. Truman
2 A. Devitt Vanech 1951 1952
3 Ross L. Malone 1952 January 20, 1953
4 William P. Rogers, U.S. Secretary of State.jpg William P. Rogers January 20, 1953 October 23, 1957 Dwight D. Eisenhower
5 Lawrence Walsh at the Oval Office in 1960.jpg Lawrence Walsh December 29, 1957 January 20, 1961
6 White and R. Kennedy 1961.jpg Byron White January 20, 1961 April 16, 1962 John F. Kennedy
7 Nicholas Katzenbach at White House, 6 May 1968.jpg Nicholas Katzenbach April 16, 1962 January 28, 1965
Lyndon B. Johnson
8 Ramsey Clark at the White House, 28 Feb 1968.jpg Ramsey Clark January 28, 1965 March 10, 1967
9 Warren Christopher.jpg Warren Christopher March 10, 1967 January 20, 1969
10 Richard Kleindienst January 20, 1969 June 12, 1972 Richard Nixon
11 Ralph E. Erickson 1972 1973
12 Joseph Sneed 1973 1973
13 William Ruckelshaus.jpg William Ruckelshaus July 9, 1973 October 20, 1973
14 Laurence Silberman (2).jpg Laurence Silberman 1974 1975 Gerald Ford
15 Harold R. Tyler, Jr. April 6, 1975 January 20, 1977
16 Peter F. Flaherty April 12, 1977 1978 Jimmy Carter
17 Benjamin Civiletti (1979).jpg Benjamin Civiletti 1978 August 16, 1979
18 Charles Byron Renfrew 1980 1981
19 Edward C. Schmults 1981 1984 Ronald Reagan
20 Carol E. Dinkins 1984 1985
21 D Lowell Jensen Senior District Judge.jpg D. Lowell Jensen 1985 1986
22 Arnold Burns 1986 1988
23 Harold G. Christensen 1988 1989
24 Donald B. Ayer 1989 May 1990 George H. W. Bush
25 William Barr, official photo as Attorney General.jpg William P. Barr May 1990 November 26, 1991
26 George J. Terwilliger III.png George Terwilliger November 26, 1991 January 20, 1993
27 Phil Heymann.jpg Philip Heymann May 28, 1993 March 17, 1994 Bill Clinton
28 GorelickJamie.jpg Jamie Gorelick March 17, 1994 May 1997
29 HolderEric.jpg Eric Holder June 13, 1997 January 20, 2001
Acting Director Robert S. Mueller- III.jpg Robert Mueller January 20, 2001 May 10, 2001 George W. Bush
30 Larry Thompson from White House.jpg Larry Thompson May 10, 2001 August 31, 2003
31 James Comey US Deputy Attorney General.jpg James Comey December 9, 2003 August 15, 2005
Acting Robert D. McCallum, Jr.jpg Robert McCallum, Jr. August 15, 2005 March 17, 2006
32 McNulty.jpeg Paul McNulty March 17, 2006 July 26, 2007
Acting MorfordCraig.jpg Craig S. Morford July 26, 2007 March 10, 2008
33 Mark Filip.jpg Mark Filip March 10, 2008 January 20, 2009
34 David Ogden official portrait.jpg David W. Ogden March 12, 2009 February 5, 2010 Barack Obama
Acting Gary Grindler February 5, 2010 December 29, 2010
35 James M Cole.jpg James M. Cole December 29, 2010 January 8, 2015
36 Sally Q. Yates (cropped).jpg Sally Yates January 10, 2015 January 30, 2017
Donald Trump
Dana Boente (cropped).jpg
Dana Boente February 9, 2017 April 25, 2017
37 Rod Rosenstein headshot.jpg Rod Rosenstein April 26, 2017 present


  1. ^ "DOJ: JMD: MPS: Functions Manual: Attorney General". Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  2. ^ "Paul McNulty's Resignation Letter" (PDF). Washington Post. May 14, 2007. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  3. ^ Lara Jakes Jordan, The Associated Press (May 14, 2007). "McNulty, Justice Dept. No. 2, Resigning". The San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on May 31, 2007. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  4. ^ Lara Jakes Jordan, The Associated Press (July 20, 2007). "Bush Picks Justice No. 2". Fox News. Retrieved January 25, 2009.
  5. ^ "The President's Day". Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. August 3, 1951. Retrieved February 23, 2016.

External links

A. Devitt Vanech

A. Devitt Vanech (March 26, 1906 – September 10, 1967) was an American attorney who served as the United States Assistant Attorney General for the Environment and Natural Resources from 1947 to 1951 and as United States Deputy Attorney General from 1951 to 1952.

Arnold Burns

Arnold Irwin Burns (April 14, 1930 – October 1, 2013) was an American lawyer. He served as the United States Deputy Attorney General from 1986 to 1988 under President Ronald Reagan and U.S. Attorney General Edwin Meese. In March 1988, Burns, together with the head of the U.S. Justice Department's criminal division William Weld and four aides, resigned from office in protest of what they viewed as improper conduct by Attorney General Meese, including personal financial indiscretions. In July 1988, Burns and Weld jointly testified before the U.S. Congress in support of a potential prosecution of Meese following an investigation by a special prosecutor, who had declined to file charges. Meese resigned from office later in July 1988, shortly after Burns and Weld appeared before Congress.

Beth Ann Williams

Beth Ann Williams (born July 14, 1979) is an American lawyer who is the United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legal Policy. In her role as Assistant Attorney General, Williams serves as the primary policy advisor to the United States Attorney General and the United States Deputy Attorney General. Prior to assuming her current post, she was a partner at the law firm of Kirkland & Ellis.

Cole Memorandum

The Cole Memorandum was a United States Department of Justice memorandum issued August 29, 2013, by United States Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole during the presidency of Barack Obama. The memorandum, sent to all United States Attorneys, governed federal prosecution of offenses related to marijuana. The memo stated that given its limited resources, the Justice Department would not enforce federal marijuana prohibition in states that "legalized marijuana in some form and ... implemented strong and effective regulatory and enforcement systems to control the cultivation, distribution, sale, and possession of marijuana," except where a lack of federal enforcement would undermine federal priorities (such as preventing violence in marijuana cultivation and distribution, preventing cannabis impaired driving, and preventing marijuana revenues from going to gangs and cartels).The Cole Memorandum was rescinded by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in January 2018, during the presidency of Donald Trump.

Craig S. Morford

Craig S. Morford (born February 10, 1959) is an American attorney and former acting United States Deputy Attorney General.

Donald B. Ayer

Donald Belton Ayer (born April 30, 1949) was the United States Deputy Attorney General from 1989 to May 1990, under Republican President George H.W. Bush.

George J. Terwilliger III

George J. Terwilliger III (born June 5, 1950) is an American lawyer and public official. He is a partner in the Washington, D.C. office of McGuireWoods LLP where he is head of the firm's Crisis Response practice and co-head of its white collar team. He is a former United States Deputy Attorney General and acting United States Attorney General. Terwilliger, of Vermont, was nominated on February 14, 1992, by President George H.W. Bush to be Deputy Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice. He succeeded William Pelham Barr. As Deputy Attorney General, Terwilliger became the second-highest-ranking official in the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) and ran the day-to-day operations of the Department, serving in that position from 1991 through 1993. He was appointed to the position by President George H.W. Bush after serving as the United States Attorney for the District of Vermont, appointed by President Reagan.

Harold G. Christensen

Harold G. Christensen (June 25, 1926 – November 14, 2012) was an American attorney who served as United States Deputy Attorney General from 1988 to 1989.At the age of 17, he served as a medic in the U.S. Navy during World War 2. He later attended the University of Utah for his undergraduate degree and the University of Michigan, where he obtained his law degree in 1951.He briefly served as President Reagan's acting attorney general due to the resignation of Edwin Meese.

He died of cancer on November 14, 2012, in Salt Lake City, Utah at age 86.

James M. Cole

James Michael Cole (born May 2, 1952) is an American attorney who served as United States Deputy Attorney General from December 29, 2010 to January 8, 2015. He was first installed as Deputy Attorney General following a recess appointment by President Barack Obama on December 29, 2010. He then was confirmed by the United States Senate in a 55–42 vote on June 28, 2011.

Jeffrey A. Rosen

Jeffrey Adam Rosen (born April 2, 1958) is an American lawyer who serves as United States Deputy Secretary of Transportation. Prior to assuming his current role, he was a senior partner at the law firm Kirkland & Ellis.

On February 19, 2019, President Donald Trump announced his intention to nominate Rosen for the position of United States Deputy Attorney General, succeeding Rod Rosenstein upon his departure from the Department of Justice. His nomination is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Joseph Tyree Sneed III

Joseph Tyree Sneed III (July 21, 1920 – February 9, 2008) was a Republican United States Deputy Attorney General and then a United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit for nearly 35 years until his death. He was the father of Carly Fiorina, a former CEO of Hewlett-Packard and 2016 Republican Presidential Primary candidate.

Lawrence Walsh

Lawrence Edward Walsh (January 8, 1912 – March 19, 2014) was an American lawyer, a United States District Judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York and United States Deputy Attorney General who was appointed Independent Counsel in December 1986 to investigate the Iran–Contra affair during the Reagan Administration.

Michael Murray

Michael or Mike Murray may refer to:

Michael Murray (organist) (born 1943), American-born organist

Michael Murray, lead character played by Robert Lindsay in the British TV serial G.B.H.

Mike Murray (cricketer) (born 1930), English administrator, banker and cricketer

Mike Murray (ice hockey) (born 1966), one-gamer in the National Hockey League

Michael Murray (attorney), United States Supreme Court clerk and counsel to United States Deputy Attorney General

Michael Murray (rock musician), American-born songwriter/singer/guitarist

Michael Murray (director) (born 1932), one of the early leaders of the Regional Theatre Movement

Mick Murray (Irish republican) (died 1999), Irish republican activist

Michael Murray (attorney)

Michael F. Murray is an American attorney. When at Jones Day law firm, he served as Supreme Court law clerk for Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy from 2013 to 2014. He previously clerked for Judge Diarmuid O'Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In 2009, he graduated from Yale Law School.

In January 2017, he was appointed Counsel to the United States Deputy Attorney General. As of June 2017, he was leading a "mysterious" subcommittee determining the future United States response to state cannabis laws, reported to be reconsidering implementation of the Cole Memorandum.

Peter F. Flaherty

Peter Francis Flaherty (June 25, 1924 – April 18, 2005) was an American soldier, activist, and politician. He served as Assistant District Attorney of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania from 1957-64; a City of Pittsburgh Councilman 1966-70; Democratic mayor of Pittsburgh from 1970-77; United States Deputy Attorney General during the Carter administration from 1977-78, and County Commissioner of Allegheny County from 1984-96.

Flaherty was born and raised on Pittsburgh's North Side. He served in the United States Air Force during World War II and used the G.I. Bill to become the first in his family to attend college. He graduated from Carlow University in three years, then graduated cum laude from Notre Dame Law School and became a member of the Pennsylvania Bar. He developed his own legal practice which included the Pittsburgh Steelers among his clients. In 1971, he earned a Masters in Public Administration from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Affairs.

Peyton Ford

Peyton Ford (February 24, 1911 – November 22, 1971) was an American attorney who served as the United States Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Division from 1947 to 1949 and as United States Deputy Attorney General from 1950 to 1951.

Rod Rosenstein

Rod Jay Rosenstein (; born January 13, 1965) is an American attorney serving as United States Deputy Attorney General since 2017. Prior to his current appointment, he served as a United States Attorney for the District of Maryland. At the time of his confirmation as Deputy Attorney General in April 2017, he was the nation's longest-serving U.S. Attorney. Rosenstein had also been nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in 2007, but his nomination was never considered by the U.S. Senate.President Donald Trump nominated Rosenstein to serve as Deputy Attorney General for the United States Department of Justice on February 1, 2017. Rosenstein was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on April 25, 2017. In May 2017, he authored a memo that President Trump cited as the basis for his decision to dismiss FBI Director James Comey.Following the recusal of Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Comey's dismissal, Rosenstein appointed Robert Mueller as special counsel to investigate alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia during the 2016 elections and related matters. Rosenstein previously assumed authority over the parallel FBI probe after the recusal of former attorney general Jeff Sessions over misleading remarks he made to the Senate Committee on the Judiciary during his confirmation process. On November 7, 2018, Trump transferred command of this oversight to acting US Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

Ross L. Malone

Rosser Lynn Malone Jr. (September 9, 1910 – August 13, 1974) was an American attorney who served as United States Deputy Attorney General from 1952 to 1953.

Sally Yates

Sally Caroline Yates (née Quillian; August 20, 1960) is an American lawyer. She served as a United States Attorney and later United States Deputy Attorney General, having been appointed to both positions by President Barack Obama.

Following the inauguration of Donald Trump and the departure of Attorney General Loretta Lynch on January 20, 2017, Yates served as Acting Attorney General for 10 days. She was dismissed for insubordination by President Trump on January 30, after she instructed the Justice Department not to make legal arguments defending Executive Order 13769, which temporarily banned the admission of refugees and barred travel from certain Muslim-majority countries. Rather than defend it, Yates stated the order was neither defensible in court nor consistent with the Constitution. Large portions of the order were subsequently blocked by federal courts, which ruled that those sections violated the Fifth Amendment.

Following her dismissal, Yates returned to private practice and declined to run for elected office.


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