Gov't official: Administration taps Washington lawyer for No. 2 slot at Justice Department

WASHINGTON (AP) — James Cole, a Washington lawyer who spent 13 years at the Justice Department, will be the Obama administration's nominee to become the next deputy attorney general, the No. 2 post at the department.

If confirmed, he would replace prominent Washington attorney David Ogden, who announced last December that he was leaving to return to his former law firm. His departure after a relatively brief tenure was said to be over differences in management styles with Attorney General Eric Holder.

A government official familiar with the matter Friday confirmed the administration's intention to nominate Cole. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because no announcement had yet been made.

Cole served four years as the deputy chief of the Public Integrity Section in the Justice Department's criminal division, handling high-profile corruption cases against public officials.

Cole also was special counsel in a House Ethics Committee probe of Speaker Newt Gingrich.

As an attorney for the firm Bryan Cave, Cole counseled accounting firm Arthur Andersen on document management and compliance procedures during the Enron scandal.

He also served as lead defense counsel in a criminal case against former Louisiana Gov. Edwin Edwards and represented McDonnell Douglas in the indictment of that company for criminal export violations.

In the upcoming Senate confirmation process, one matter that could arise stems from Cole's work at insurance giant American International Group.

Cole performed independent consulting at AIG as a result of a 2004 settlement with the government in which AIG agreed to pay $126 million to settle federal allegations that it helped two customer companies commit accounting fraud.

Cole examined certain transactions by the company between 2000 and 2004 to determine whether any related parties violated accounting rules to achieve certain results.

AIG, which came close to collapse in late 2008 during the credit crisis, received a government bailout worth more than $180 billion. It has been selling assets and streamlining businesses in an effort to repay the loans.


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