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U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams to Resign at President Biden’s Request

Williams is out Feb. 28. A number of names are circulating for the top job.

The Biden adminstration acted swiftly today to remove most Trump administration holdovers from the top federal law enforcement jobs around the country. That means U.S. Attorney for Oregon Billy Williams will submit his resignation.

"On an all-U.S. attorney call this morning, Acting Attorney General Wilkinson instructed most presidentially appointed U.S. attorneys, U.S. Attorney Williams included, to submit resignations effective Feb. 28, 2021," Kevin Sonoff, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney of Oregon's Office, said in a statement. "Our office is taking all necessary steps to ensure a smooth transition and will provide more information soon."

The Oregonian first reported Williams' resignation.

Since the posts are political appointments, it's no surprise that Biden would seek to cleanse the Justice Department of Trump administration holdovers.

But Williams did not exactly fit that mold. A career prosecutor, first in the Multnomah County District Attorney's Office and later in the U.S. Attorney's Office, he was the criminal chief in office when then-U.S. Attorney Amanda Marshall, an Obama appointee, resigned in 2015.

Williams stepped into Marshall's role on an interim basis and eventually took the job on a full-time basis. His tenure was marked by two prominent political controversies: a largely failed prosecution of Ammon Bundy and other occupiers of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in 2016, and President Trump's deployment of federal police to guard the downtown courthouse in 2020, while Williams handled federal indictments of protesters against police.

The job—the top federal law enforcement post in Oregon—is highly coveted.

Among the names of potential successors circulating in the legal community: Craig Gabriel, an assistant U.S. attorney; Donna Maddux, a former AUSA now in private practice; Dwight Holton, the former interim U.S. attorney who now runs the mental health and suicide prevention nonprofit Lines for Life; Renata Gowie, who serves as the office's civil chief; and Vivek Kothari, a former AUSA in the Northern District of Georgia now in private practice in Portland.

Oregon's two U.S. senators, Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, will conduct a selection process and recommend names for Williams' replacement to the White House.

"Senators Wyden and Merkley are working to assemble a selection committee that will consider all applicants interested in filling the job of U.S. Attorney for Oregon and then recommend finalists to forward to the Biden administration for its selection," said Wyden's spokesman, Hank Stern.

"Both senators thank Billy Williams for nearly six years of service to Oregon in this post as the state's chief federal law enforcement official."