First on CNN: Dana Boente to lead DOJ division that oversees Russia probe

Story highlights

  • National Security Division oversees work on counterterrorism, counterintelligence, and cyber threats
  • Boente will replace Mary McCord at the National Security Division

Washington (CNN)A career federal prosecutor who was thrust into the midst of a whirlwind past three months at the Justice Department has been tapped to serve as the interim head of its national security division -- a post that oversees the FBI's work on potential coordination between the Trump campaign and Russian meddling in the presidential election.

The department announced Friday that Dana Boente has been appointed the acting assistant attorney general for the national security division. The job also includes overseeing other high-profile investigations, such as those into Wikileaks' Julian Assange. CNN was first to report Boente's new appointment.
"Dana Boente has been a dedicated public servant for decades and has served in important leadership roles in the Department of Justice," said Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. "In recent months, he has provided extraordinary leadership during the transition period. I am pleased that he has agreed to continue his service by leading our efforts to keep America safe."
    Boente -- the US attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and an Obama appointee -- has served in the Justice Department for over 30 years, but held a number of key positions at the the department over the last several months.
    He was first thrust into the spotlight in late January as the acting attorney general after President Donald Trump fired the former acting head, Sally Yates, for her refusal to defend the President's first travel ban.
    Boente was then later appointed to the No. 2 spot at DOJ as acting deputy attorney general and tasked with not only overseeing the Russia probe after Sessions recused himself, but also had the job of calling Preet Bharara -- then US attorney for the Southern District of New York -- to tell him that the President had fired him along with dozens of other top prosecutors around the country.
    Now that Rod Rosenstein, former US attorney for the district of Maryland, has been confirmed to the No. 2 spot at DOJ, the ultimate prosecutorial decision-making on Russia will fall to him.
    Boente's most prominent case as US attorney was leading the corruption trial of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, whose conviction was overturned by the Supreme Court last year. Boente declined to retry the case.
    Sources tell CNN that Boente will begin at the national security division position in mid-May, just after Mary McCord leaves. She announced that she will step down next month.