WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden has nominated a Miami litigator and longtime government lawyer to serve as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Florida, the office currently involved in the Justice Department’s investigation of classified records at former President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago estate.
Markenzy Lapointe would replace Juan Antonio “Tony” Gonzalez, who has been a top prosecutor in Southern Florida involved in the investigation of the classified records and the debate over whether a judge should appoint a special master to review the documents taken by FBI in the search.
It was unclear why the Biden administration chose to announce the nomination for the position now, as the government’s case winds its way through the court system. Gonzalez, who had previously served as a senior prosecutor in the office, had been appointed to the position by Attorney General Merrick Garland. He was never formally nominated for the position.
Gonzalez has served as a federal prosecutor in southern Florida since 1998 and served as the first assistant U.S. attorney and the acting U.S. attorney. He succeeded Ariana Fajardo Orshan, who had been nominated by Trump.
Lapointe will likely be in the spotlight for months to come as the investigation continues. He is currently with Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman, and before that he worked at Boies Schiller & Flexner. He worked in the Southern District of Florida as an assistant U.S. attorney from 2002 to 2006.
Biden also formally nominated Roger Handberg to be the United States attorney for the Middle District of Florida, which is handling a federal investigation into Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz. Handberg was appointed by Garland and has been serving in the role since 2021.
U.S. attorney picks must be confirmed by the Senate, and home-state senators usually have significant input on the nominees. Both Florida candidates were recommended by a bipartisan commission led by Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who praised Biden’s choices.
“They have served their communities and country with distinction, and I expect both will respect the Constitution and uphold the rule of law without fear or favor,” he said in a statement.
The president also nominated McLain Schneider to the District of North Dakota. He was in private practice and served in the North Dakota state Senate from 2008 to 2016.
The White House said the lawyers were chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, “their professionalism, their experience and credentials, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice.”
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