President Joe Biden’s nominees for the top federal prosecutors in Manhattan and Brooklyn were confirmed by the U.S. Senate late Tuesday, setting the stage for a new era for New York federal law enforcement in which both offices will be led by a Black prosecutor for the first time.
The Senate confirmed Damian Williams as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District, which covers Manhattan, and Breon Peace for the Eastern District, which covers Brooklyn. The confirmations were approved on a voice vote for a block of eight nominees as part of the Senate’s closing business for the day. Both candidates were put forward by New York Senator Chuck Schumer in March, and nominated by Biden in August.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan is viewed as the most elite outpost of the Justice Department throughout the nation, the leading office in prosecuting white-collar, financial and terrorism cases. Williams, 41, rose through the ranks of its most high-profile unit, serving as both a line prosecutor and supervisor of its securities fraud team. He is the rare case of a prosecutor chosen to lead the office from within its own ranks. He is the first Black prosecutor to lead the office in its history.
Peace, a former federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, is a partner at the law firm Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton, representing corporate clients in high-stakes criminal investigations. The Brooklyn U.S. attorney’s office has previously been led by Black prosecutors, including Loretta Lynch, who went on to become attorney general under President Barack Obama. © 2021 Bloomberg L.P.