Senior Administration Officials: Chertoff Likely to Get Nod

WASHINGTON (CNN) — President Bush will likely nominate Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff to replace Alberto Gonzales as Attorney General, senior administration officials told CNN Monday.

Chertoff, 53, previously sat on the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles appeals from New Jersey, Delaware, Pennsylvania and the Virgin Islands.

Before becoming a judge, he was assistant attorney general in the Department of Justice's criminal division from 2001 to 2003.

Chertoff argued the government's case against terror suspect Zacarias Moussaoui's request for access to other al Qaeda suspects in U.S. custody. Allowing such access, Chertoff said, would create "immediate and irreparable harm" to U.S. security.

Chertoff received his law degree from Harvard University and was a law clerk to Supreme Court Justice William H. Brennan Jr. in 1979 and 1980. He first stepped into a prosecutorial role as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York from 1983 to 1987.

From there, he moved to the District of New Jersey and was assistant U.S. attorney from 1987 to 1990 and U.S. attorney until 1994.

Between 1994 and 1996, Chertoff was counsel to the GOP Whitewater committee investigating the business dealings of President Clinton and first lady Hillary Clinton, who is now New York's junior senator and a candidate for president of the United States.

The Whitewater investigation eventually led to Clinton's impeachment in the House of Representatives, but the bid to remove him from office failed in the Senate.

An independent counsel later determined that the Whitewater investigation did not uncover sufficient evidence to warrant any criminal charges against the Clintons.

As a senator, Mrs. Clinton cast the only vote against Chertoff when he was nominated for the appeals court in 2003.


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