WASHINGTON — Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday announced his recommendations to be President Biden’s nominees for three New York US attorney positions.
The powerful posts control major federal investigations, including a reported probe of Gov. Andrew Cuomo covering up COVID-19 nursing home deaths. Biden is expected to accept Schumer’s picks.
Damian Williams is set to be nominated as US attorney for the Southern District of New York, replacing Audrey Strauss, said Schumer (D-NY).
Strauss is the mother-in law of top Cuomo aide Melissa DeRosa, who admitted to the coverup of state nursing home death figures so they could not “be used against us” by federal prosecutors during the Trump administration.
Williams, 40, would be the first black person to serve in the role if he’s confirmed by the Senate. He currently is chief of the securities and commodities fraud task force at the SDNY.
The Manhattan-based Southern District often is referred to as the “Sovereign District” due to its relative independence from the main Justice Department and its role in high-profile cases.
“Damian Williams has tremendous legal acumen, is deeply experienced in the Southern District, has tried significant cases and has a strong commitment to equal justice and civil rights under the law. He is ready to take the helm to steer the Southern District forward into a bright future,” Schumer said in a statement.
Breon Peace, a former assistant US attorney, is the pick for Brooklyn-based US attorney for the Eastern District of New York. That office and the FBI reportedly are reviewing the Cuomo nursing home coverup, which could amount to criminal obstruction.
The Justice Department in October requested state data on COVID-19 deaths at private homes after a review of public nursing home data revealed a substantial undercount of deaths linked to a March 25 state rule barring facilities from turning away sick patients. That data was not fully produced before the Justice Department leadership changed hands in January after what DeRosa described as stonewalling.
Schumer said that “like me, Breon Peace is a Brooklyn boy at heart; he is the son of a pastor and proud product of Crown Heights and Clara Barton HS, who never forgot where he came from.”
For the Buffalo-based Western District, Schumer announced Trini Ross, who would be the first African-American woman in the role, according to Schumer. She currently works in the inspector general’s office of the National Science Foundation.
Schumer did not announce a pick for New York’s Albany-based Northern District. His spokesman Angelo Roefaro said that selection is not yet ready to be announced.