DOJ official leading Trump-Russia probe to step down

The Justice Department official who is leading the government’s investigation into potential collusion between President Donald Trump’s campaign and the Russian government will step down next month.

Mary McCord, who has served as acting assistant attorney general for national security since October, informed DOJ employees this week that she will be leaving in mid-May, a spokesman confirmed to POLITICO.

DOJ’s National Security Division is leading the agency’s inquiry into possible links between Trump campaign aides and Moscow, as well as the Kremlin’s alleged digital meddling campaign during the 2016 presidential race.

FBI Director James Comey confirmed the counterintelligence operation during a March hearing on Capitol Hill.

A former Justice Department official who worked with McCord said he didn’t expect her departure to throw the investigation off-course.

"I don’t think there’ll be tremendous disruption in terms of NSD’s interface with the FBI and its ability to carry out the investigation," the former official said.

But, they added, it is important to have "somebody of significant seniority" who can "run interference" on "any sticking points or other controversial matters that arise in the Russia investigation."

"You sometimes need somebody who can step in at a senior level and firmly plant their feet in the ground and say, ‘Here is the position of the National Security Division,’" the former official said.

McCord replaced John Carlin, an Obama administration appointee who retired on Oct. 15. It is not yet known who will succeed her. There are four deputy assistant attorneys general, each of whom oversees a different part of the NSD’s portfolio.

The former DOJ official said the Russia probe is "the type of matter that is cross-cutting and is going to likely involve all of the deputies in the National Security Division."

During her brief tenure as head of the NSD, McCord oversaw the indictments of four alleged Yahoo hackers and multiple botnet takedowns.

The Intercept first reported McCord’s departure. NPR later reported that, in a note to her staff, McCord said, “The time is now right for me to pursue new career opportunities.”

McCord initially joined the National Security Division in 2014, after spending nearly 20 years at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, where she eventually became head of the criminal division.

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