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The Department of Justice press release announcing Craig Morford’s appointment as deputy attorney general neglected to mention one of his key virtues: pinch hitter for troubled U.S. attorneys’ offices. King & Spalding’s James Vines, who preceded Morford as U.S. attorney in Nashville, Tenn., says the office Morford inherited still had “a lot of problems and a lot of struggles to fix them.” Gerald Rosen worked with Morford, then the interim U.S. attorney for Michigan’s Eastern District, when he was abruptly given the helm of a post-trial terrorism case investigation. Rosen describes Morford’s conduct as “in the highest tradition” of U.S. attorneys. “If he’s not [Justice's] top trouble-shooter, he’s one of the top trouble-shooters,” Rosen adds. Given the turmoil in the top ranks of the department, Joseph DiGenova, a former U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, says the Bush administration likely had no choice but to pick someone willing to take some grief along with his promotion. “They weren’t going to get anyone of stature to take a job like this,” he says, noting that the new deputy attorney general can look forward to an ugly confirmation process and a job that lasts just 18 months. “I’m sure they made a few phone calls and got resounding nos.” Vines admits that, before the July 18 announcement, he hadn’t considered Morford as a possible candidate for the No. 2 slot. But he’s pleased that his successor was willing to accept the job. “I’m glad there are people like Craig who would take it, under those circumstances,” he says.
Jeff Horwitz can be contacted at [email protected].

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