One less watchdog: Justice Department official in charge of Russia investigation is stepping down

The acting assistant attorney general for national security, who has served since October, will depart in May

By Matthew Rozsa
April 21, 2017 5:24PM (UTC)
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(AP Photo/J. David Ake, File))

More than half of Americans want President Donald Trump's connections to Russia to be investigated, but the Justice Department itself is about to undergo a major transition in terms of who will actually lead that investigation.

Mary McCord, the acting assistant attorney general for national security, will step down in May after leading the Justice Department's investigation into allegations of collusion between Trump's campaign and the Russian government, according to a report by The Intercept. The National Security Division of the Department of Justice is responsible for investigating both the Russian government's alleged cyber-warfare against Hillary Clinton's campaign as well as the links between the Kremlin and Trump's operations.


"I don’t think there’ll be tremendous disruption in terms of NSD’s interface with the FBI and its ability to carry out the investigation," a former Justice Department official told Politico. That said, he emphasized that "somebody of significant seniority" would be needed to replace McCord so that they could "run interference" on "any sticking points or other controversial matters that arise in the Russia investigation."

The official also told Politico that the Russia investigation is "the type of matter that is cross-cutting and is going to likely involve all of the deputies in the National Security Division."

In addition to leading the Russia investigation, McCord's tenure in charge of the National Security Division is best known for presiding over indictments of four alleged Yahoo hackers and fighting a number of botnets.


In a note to her staff, McCord explained that she was leaving because "the time is now right for me to pursue new career opportunities."



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Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer for Salon. He holds an MA in History from Rutgers University-Newark and is ABD in his PhD program in History at Lehigh University. His work has appeared in Mic, Quartz and MSNBC.

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Donald Trump Justice Department Mary Mccord Russia Vladimir Putin