US President Barack Obama Friday nominated former Department of Justice (DOJ) [official website] lawyer James Cole [professional profile] for the position of Deputy Attorney General, the second highest position at the DOJ. Cole previously spent 13 years at the DOJ, including four years as head of the department's Public Integrity Section [official website], responsible for prosecuting government officials. During the 1997 investigation [CNN backgrounder] of former House Speaker Newt Gingrich [personal website], Cole served as the Special Counsel to the House Ethics Committee [official website]. The position of the Deputy Attorney General [official website] has been filled by Gary Grindler [official profile] since February, after first Obama Deputy AG David Ogden resigned [JURIST report] only nine months after being confirmed.
Ogden had been a key member of the Obama transition team at the DOJ prior to his nomination as Deputy AG [JURIST report]. The nomination was controversial, as conservative groups took issue [JURIST report] with his support for abortion rights, including the amicus brief [text, PDF] he wrote for the American Psychological Association in Planned Parenthood Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey [opinion, PDF].