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Meet Damian Williams, President Biden’s Pick to Prosecute Wall Street

Courtesy of Pam Martens

Damian Williams (Photo Source US Attorney's Office, SDNY, via AP)

Damian Williams (Photo Source: U.S. Attorney’s Office, SDNY, via AP)

By Pam Martens and Russ Martens

When it comes to prosecuting the serial criminal cases arising out of Wall Street, there are two critical posts: the head of the Criminal Division at the Department of Justice and the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. (The Securities and Exchange Commission has only civil powers and, thus, conveniently, cannot bring criminal charges.)

President Biden failed to properly vet his nominee, Kenneth Polite, to head the Criminal Division, “despite screaming red flags on his financial disclosure form.” Polite was confirmed for the job by the U.S. Senate on July 20. Senators asked zero questions about these financial red flags.

Yesterday, President Biden announced that he was nominating Damian Williams to become the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, the office that brings (or fails to bring) the majority of criminal cases involving Wall Street crimes. Williams should be swiftly confirmed by the Senate as he has worked in that office since 2012 and is currently the Chief of its Securities and Commodities Fraud Unit.

Williams obtained a BA in Economics from Harvard University in 2002; a Masters of Philosophy in International Relations from the University of Cambridge in 2003; and a law degree from Yale University in 2007. Following law school, Williams clerked for Merrick Garland on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. District and for Justice John Paul Stevens on the U.S. Supreme Court. Garland is currently the Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice.

Following his clerkships, Williams worked at Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, a law firm with a long history of defending Wall Street’s mega banks. His stint there was brief, however, from 2009 to 2012.

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