James Byrne, a former associate general counsel and chief privacy officer at Lockheed Martin, is the new general counsel for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Lockheed Martin, where Byrne also handled cybersecurity and counterintelligence matters,announced he was leaving for the VA position on Aug. 4.
Byrne was nominated for the job by President Donald Trump in June as part of a flurry of in-house counsel who are joining the Trump administration, and confirmed by the U.S. Senate last week.
Byrne could not be reached for comment, and a VA spokesman said an official announcement would be made when a date is set for his swearing in.
He will replace interim GC Meghan Flanz, who previously served as VA deputy general counsel for legal operations and accountability, and most recently as the assistant secretary of the VA’s office of human resources. It was not clear if Flanz will remain in the legal department, return to the HR office or do something else.
A former Marine, Byrne has worked more than 20 years in the federal government, including several years as a federal narcotics prosecutor. He also worked in the U.S. Office of Special Counsel, where he was the deputy special counsel. And he served as the general counsel and assistant inspector general for investigations with the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, an independent government agency that monitored the use of U.S. funds in Iraq.
In 2008 then-Lockheed Martin general counsel James Comey hired Byrne into the aerospace company’s legal department. Comey later became FBI director before being fired by Trump in May.The VA general counsel heads legal support services for the department and its leaders in Washington, D.C., as well as for VA medical centers, regional offices, national cemeteries and other facilities around the country.
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