Lisa Monaco Nominated as Deputy Attorney General: Promises “Justice Without Fear or Favor”

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President-Elect Joe Biden and Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris took the stage on Thursday, Jan. 7, to name four new Justice Department nominees for their upcoming administration. Among them was deputy attorney general nominee Lisa Monaco, who delivered the following remarks:

“We are all temporary custodians of the institution,” Monaco said in reference to the Department of Justice (DOJ). “The story goes that when President Ford asked [Edward] Levy what he thought the department needed most in those days of flagging faith in institutions, Levy responded, ‘A soul.’

“Well, the soul of the Justice Department lives in the integrity of its career professionals, in the independence of its investigations and prosecutions and in the principles it brings to bear as it stewards the ideal of justice in America.”

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Monaco, a 15-year veteran of the DOJ, was the first woman assistant attorney general for national security, having also served the White House as a homeland security and counterterrorism advisor. 

She was named chief of staff to Robert Mueller when he was FBI director following the 9/11 attacks. Monaco even received the DOJ’s highest honor, the Attorney General’s Award for Exceptional Service, for her work as assistant U.S. attorney. 

“I worked directly with communities and victims of crime, and I felt the weight of a prosecutor’s responsibility to ensure not that cases are won, but that justice is done, and that each individual defendant’s rights are protected. These experiences forged in me, a reverence for the Department of Justice as an institution for its people, for its mission, for the enduring values that it represents,” Monaco said in her remarks.

“Lisa knows the department inside and out. She is the definition of what a public servant should be: decent, trusting, honorable,” Biden said when introducing Monaco.

Biden’s high praise was backed by his nominee’s lengthy resume, as well as her commitment to the DOJ above other institutions. Biden claims to have offered Monaco more prestigious positions, though she refused in favor of returning to her home base in the Justice Department.

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“What is most critical I think in the days ahead is not actually a challenge at all, but an opportunity. For this team and for the career professionals who make up the Justice Department to reaffirm its norms and traditions. To do justice without fear or favor, to keep the American people safe and to do so always consistent with the rule of law,” Monaco said.

“If confirmed, it will be my honor to once again, work alongside the women and men of the Justice Department as custodians of a remarkable and durable institution.”

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Sophie Dorf-Kamienny is a junior at Tufts University studying sociology and community health. She is a Ms. contributing writer, and was formerly an editorial fellow, research fellow and assistant editor of social media. You can find her on Twitter at @sophie_dk_.