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United States Attorney General
|United States Attorney General|
Seal of the Department of Justice
Flag of the United States Attorney General
|United States Department of Justice|
|Style||Mr. Attorney General|
|Reports to||President of the United States|
|Seat||Department of Justice Headquarters|
with Senate advice and consent
|Term length||No fixed term|
|Constituting instrument||28 U.S.C. § 503|
|Formation||September 26, 1789|
|First holder||Edmund Randolph|
|Deputy||United States Deputy Attorney General|
|Salary||Executive Schedule, level I|
The United States Attorney General is the head of the United States Department of Justice concerned with legal affairs and is the chief law enforcement officer of the United States government.The Attorney General is considered to be the chief lawyer of the U.S. government. The Attorney General is a member of the President's Cabinet, but is the only cabinet department head who is not given the title Secretary.
List of attorneys general
acting attorneys general before appointment or after resignation Denotes service as
|No.||Portrait||Name||Prior Experience||State of residence||Took office||Left office||President(s)|
|1||Edmund Randolph||Lawyer,||Virginia||September 26, 1789||September 12, 1813||George Washington|
|2||William Bradford||Lawyer, judge,||Pennsylvania||January 27, 1794||August 23, 1795|
|3||Charles Lee||Lawyer,||Virginia||December 10, 1795||June 24, 1815|
|4||Levi Lincoln Sr.||Lawyer,
Acting United States Secretary of State,
|Massachusetts||March 5, 1801||April 14, 1820||Thomas Jefferson|
Speaker of the Kentucky House of Representatives,
|Kentucky||August 7, 1805||December 14, 1806|
|6||Caesar Augustus Rodney||Lawyer,
Member of Delaware General Assembly
|Delaware||January 20, 1807||December 10, 1811|
Mayor of Annapolis,
|Maryland||December 11, 1811||February 9, 1814|
|8||Richard Rush||Lawyer,||Pennsylvania||February 10, 1814||November 12, 1817|
6th Clerk of the Virginia House of Delegates
|Virginia||November 13, 1817||March 4, 1829||James Monroe|
|John Quincy Adams|
|10||John Macpherson Berrien||Lawyer,
Judge of the Eastern judicial circuit of Georgia,
|Georgia||March 9, 1829||July 19, 1831||Andrew Jackson|
|11||Roger B. Taney||Lawyer,
Acting United States Secretary of War,
|Maryland||July 20, 1831||November 14, 1833|
|12||Benjamin Franklin Butler||Lawyer,
District Attorney of Albany County
|New York||November 15, 1833||July 4, 1838|
|Martin Van Buren|
Chief Justice of the Kentucky Court of Appeals
|Tennessee||July 5, 1838||January 10, 1840|
|14||Henry D. Gilpin||Lawyer,||Pennsylvania||January 11, 1840||March 4, 1841|
|15||John J. Crittenden
|Lawyer,||Kentucky||March 5, 1841||September 12, 1841||William Henry Harrison|
|16||Hugh S. Legaré||Lawyer,||South Carolina||September 13, 1841||June 20, 1843|
|17||John Nelson||Lawyer,||Maryland||July 1, 1843||March 4, 1845|
|18||John Y. Mason||Lawyer,||Virginia||March 5, 1845||October 16, 1846||James K. Polk|
Member of the Maine House of Representatives,
|Maine||October 17, 1846||March 17, 1848|
33rd Governor of Connecticut,
|Connecticut||June 21, 1848||March 4, 1849|
|21||Reverdy Johnson||Lawyer,||Maryland||March 8, 1849||July 21, 1850||Zachary Taylor|
|22||John J. Crittenden
15th United States Attorney General
|Kentucky||July 22, 1850||March 4, 1853||Millard Fillmore|
|23||Caleb Cushing||Lawyer,||Massachusetts||March 7, 1853||March 4, 1857||Franklin Pierce|
|24||Jeremiah S. Black||Lawyer,
Justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court
|Pennsylvania||March 6, 1857||December 16, 1860||James Buchanan|
|25||Edwin Stanton||Lawyer||Pennsylvania||December 20, 1860||March 4, 1861|
|26||Edward Bates||Lawyer,||Missouri||March 5, 1861||November 24, 1864||Abraham Lincoln|
Member of the Kentucky House of Representatives
|Kentucky||December 2, 1864||July 22, 1866|
|28||Henry Stanbery||Lawyer,||Ohio||July 23, 1866||July 16, 1868|
|29||William M. Evarts||Lawyer||New York||July 17, 1868||March 4, 1869|
|30||Ebenezer R. Hoar||Lawyer, judge||Massachusetts||March 5, 1869||November 22, 1870||Ulysses S. Grant|
|31||Amos T. Akerman||Lawyer, teacher||Georgia||November 23, 1870||December 13, 1871|
|32||George Henry Williams||Oregon||December 14, 1871||April 25, 1875|
|33||Edwards Pierrepont||New York||April 26, 1875||May 21, 1876|
|34||Alphonso Taft||Ohio||May 22, 1876||March 4, 1877|
|35||Charles Devens||Massachusetts||March 12, 1877||March 4, 1881||Rutherford B. Hayes|
|36||Wayne MacVeagh||Pennsylvania||March 5, 1881||December 15, 1881||James A. Garfield|
|Chester A. Arthur|
|37||Benjamin H. Brewster||Pennsylvania||December 16, 1881||March 4, 1885|
|38||Augustus Garland||Arkansas||March 6, 1885||March 4, 1889||Grover Cleveland|
|39||William H. H. Miller||Indiana||March 7, 1889||March 4, 1893||Benjamin Harrison|
|40||Richard Olney||Massachusetts||March 6, 1893||April 7, 1895||Grover Cleveland|
|41||Judson Harmon||Ohio||April 8, 1895||March 4, 1897|
|42||Joseph McKenna||California||March 5, 1897||January 25, 1898||William McKinley|
|43||John W. Griggs||New Jersey||January 25, 1898||March 29, 1901|
|44||Philander C. Knox||Pennsylvania||April 5, 1901||June 30, 1904|
|45||William Henry Moody||Massachusetts||July 1, 1904||December 17, 1906|
|46||Charles Bonaparte||Maryland||December 17, 1906||March 4, 1909|
|47||George W. Wickersham||New York||March 4, 1909||March 4, 1913||William Howard Taft|
|48||James C. McReynolds||Tennessee||March 5, 1913||August 29, 1914||Woodrow Wilson|
|49||Thomas Watt Gregory||Texas||August 29, 1914||March 4, 1919|
|50||A. Mitchell Palmer||Pennsylvania||March 5, 1919||March 4, 1921|
|51||Harry M. Daugherty||Ohio||March 4, 1921||April 6, 1924||Warren G. Harding|
|52||Harlan F. Stone||New York||April 7, 1924||March 1, 1925|
|53||John G. Sargent||Vermont||March 7, 1925||March 4, 1929|
|54||William D. Mitchell||Minnesota||March 4, 1929||March 4, 1933||Herbert Hoover|
|55||Homer Stille Cummings||Connecticut||March 4, 1933||January 1, 1939||Franklin D. Roosevelt|
|56||Frank Murphy||Michigan||January 2, 1939||January 18, 1940|
|57||Robert H. Jackson||New York||January 18, 1940||August 25, 1941|
|58||Francis Biddle||Pennsylvania||August 26, 1941||June 26, 1945|
|Harry S. Truman|
|59||Tom C. Clark||Texas||June 27, 1945||July 26, 1949|
|60||J. Howard McGrath||Rhode Island||July 27, 1949||April 3, 1952|
|61||James P. McGranery||Pennsylvania||April 4, 1952||January 20, 1953|
|62||Herbert Brownell Jr.||New York||January 21, 1953||October 23, 1957||Dwight D. Eisenhower|
|63||William P. Rogers||New York||October 23, 1957||January 20, 1961|
|64||Robert F. Kennedy||Massachusetts||January 20, 1961||September 3, 1964||John F. Kennedy|
|Lyndon B. Johnson|
|65||Nicholas Katzenbach||Illinois||September 4, 1964[a]||January 28, 1965|
|January 28, 1965||November 28, 1966|
|66||Ramsey Clark||Texas||November 28, 1966[a]||March 10, 1967|
|March 10, 1967||January 20, 1969|
|67||John N. Mitchell||New York||January 20, 1969||February 15, 1972||Richard Nixon|
|68||Richard Kleindienst||Arizona||February 15, 1972||April 30, 1973|
|69||Elliot Richardson||Massachusetts||April 30, 1973||October 20, 1973|
|Pennsylvania||October 20, 1973||January 4, 1974|
|70||William B. Saxbe||Ohio||January 4, 1974||January 14, 1975|
|71||Edward H. Levi||Illinois||January 14, 1975||January 20, 1977|
|Pennsylvania||January 20, 1977||January 26, 1977||Jimmy Carter|
|72||Griffin Bell||Georgia||January 26, 1977||August 16, 1979|
|73||Benjamin Civiletti||Maryland||August 16, 1979||January 19, 1981|
|74||William French Smith||California||January 23, 1981||February 25, 1985||Ronald Reagan|
|75||Edwin Meese||California||February 25, 1985||August 12, 1988|
|76||Dick Thornburgh||Pennsylvania||August 12, 1988||August 15, 1991|
|George H. W. Bush|
|United States Deputy Attorney General (1990-1991)||Virginia||August 16, 1991[a]||November 26, 1991|
|November 26, 1991||January 20, 1993|
|–||Stuart M. Gerson[d]
|Washington, D.C.||January 20, 1993||March 12, 1993||Bill Clinton|
|78||Janet Reno||Florida||March 12, 1993||January 20, 2001|
|United States Deputy Attorney General (1997-2001)
Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (1998-1993)
|Washington, D.C.||January 20, 2001||February 2, 2001||George W. Bush|
|79||John Ashcroft||Missouri||February 2, 2001||February 3, 2005|
|80||Alberto Gonzales||Texas||February 3, 2005||September 17, 2007|
|Washington, D.C.||September 17, 2007||September 18, 2007|
|Washington, D.C.||September 18, 2007||November 9, 2007|
|81||Michael Mukasey||New York||November 9, 2007||January 20, 2009|
|Illinois||January 20, 2009||February 3, 2009||Barack Obama|
|82||Eric Holder||Acting United States Attorney General (2001)
United States Deputy Attorney General (1997-2001)
Judge of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia (1998-1993)
|Washington, D.C.||February 3, 2009||April 27, 2015|
|83||Loretta Lynch||United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York (1999-2001, 2010-2015)
Member of the Board of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (2003-2005)
|New York||April 27, 2015||January 20, 2017|
|Georgia||January 20, 2017||January 30, 2017||Donald Trump|
|Virginia||January 30, 2017||February 9, 2017|
|84||Jeff Sessions||United States Senator from Alabama (1997-2017)
Attorney General of Alabama (1995-1997)
|Alabama||February 9, 2017||November 7, 2018|
|Iowa||November 7, 2018||February 14, 2019|
|77th United States Attorney General (1991-1993)
United States Deputy Attorney General (1990-1991)
|Virginia||February 14, 2019||December 23, 2020|
|–||Jeffrey A. Rosen
|Massachusetts||December 24, 2020||January 20, 2021|
|Massachusetts||January 20, 2021||Joe Biden|
|Washington, D.C.||January 20, 2021||March 11, 2021|
|86||Merrick Garland||Chief Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (2013-2020)
Nominee for Associate Justice of the Supreme Court (2016)
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit (1997-2013)
|Washington, D.C.||March 11, 2021||—|
- Served as acting attorney general in his capacity as deputy attorney general, until his own appointment and confirmation as attorney general.
- On October 20, 1973, Solicitor General Robert Bork became acting attorney general following the "Saturday Night Massacre", in which U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus both resigned.
- Served as acting attorney general in his capacity as deputy attorney general, until the appointment of a new attorney general. Thornburgh later served as attorney general from 1988–1991.
- Served as acting attorney general in his capacity as Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ Civil Division. Gerson was fourth in the line of succession at the Justice Department, but other senior DOJ officials had already resigned. Janet Reno, President Clinton's nominee for attorney general, was confirmed on March 12, and he resigned the same day.
- Served as acting attorney general in his capacity as deputy attorney general, until the appointment of a new attorney general. Holder later served as attorney general from 2009–2015.
- On August 27, 2007, President Bush named Solicitor General Paul Clement as the future acting attorney general, to take office upon the resignation of Alberto Gonzales, effective September 17, 2007. On September 17, President Bush announced that Assistant Attorney General for the DOJ Civil Division Peter Keisler would become acting attorney general, pending a permanent appointment of a presidential nominee. According to administration officials, Clement became acting attorney general at 12:01 am September 17, 2007, and left office 24 hours later. Keisler served as acting attorney general until the confirmation of Michael Mukasey on November 9, 2007.
- Served as acting attorney general in her capacity as deputy attorney general, until she was fired after stating that the Department of Justice would not defend an executive order in court.
- The legality of Matthew Whitaker's appointment as Acting Attorney General was called into question by several constitutional scholars. Among those included Neal Katyal and George T. Conway III, who asserted it is unconstitutional, because the Attorney General is a principal officer under the Appointments Clause, and thus requires senate consent, even in an acting capacity. Maryland filed an injunction against Whitaker's appointment on this basis. John E. Bies at Lawfare regarded it as an unresolved question. The DOJ Office of Legal Counsel released a legal opinion, asserting that the appointment was legal and consistent with past precedent.
- Served as Acting Attorney General in his capacity as deputy attorney general for a few hours following the resignation of Jeffrey Rosen at noon on January 20, 2021. President Joe Biden signed an executive order naming Deputy Assistant Attorney General for Human Resources Monty Wilkinson as acting Attorney General later that day.
- "3 U.S. Code § 19 - Vacancy in offices of both President and Vice President; officers eligible to act". https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/3/19.
- 5 U.S.C. § 5312.
- Stern, Laurence; Johnson, Haynes (May 1, 1973). "3 Top Nixon Aides, Kleindienst Out; President Accepts Full Responsibility; Richardson Will Conduct New Probe". The Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/3-top-nixon-aides-kleindienst-out-president-accepts-full-responsibility-richardson-will-conduct-new-probe/2012/06/04/gJQAx7oFJV_story.html. Retrieved February 28, 2019.
- Staff reporter (February 21, 1993). "Stuart Gerson's Parting Shot". The New York Times. https://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE1DE1331F932A15751C0A965958260. "As supporters of the Brady gun-control bill prepare to introduce it in Congress yet again this week, they find a welcome, if unlikely, ally in Stuart Gerson, the Acting Attorney General. Because President Clinton has had so many problems finding a new Attorney General, Mr. Gerson remains in office..."
- Labaton, Stephen (January 25, 1993). "Notes on Justice; Who's in Charge? Bush Holdover Says He Is, but Two Clinton Men Differ". The New York Times. https://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CE3DF1F38F936A15752C0A965958260&sec=&spon=&pagewanted=all.
- Ifill, Gwen (March 12, 1993). "Reno Confirmed in Top Justice Job". The New York Times. https://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9F0CEED71130F931A25750C0A965958260. "She will replace Acting Attorney General Stuart M. Gerson, a holdover appointee from the Bush Administration. Ms. Reno said he resigned today."
- Meyers, Steven Lee (August 27, 2007). "Embattled Attorney General Resigns". The New York Times. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/27/washington/27cnd-gonzales.html?_r=1&hp=&adxnnl=1&oref=slogin&adxnnlx=1188217220-bs39MOr+UJpRTDAYWymL9g. Retrieved August 27, 2007.
- "President Bush Announces Judge Michael Mukasey as Nominee for Attorney General", White House press release, September 17, 2007
- "Bush Text on Attorney General Nomination". NewsOK.com (The Oklahoman). September 17, 2007. http://newsok.com/bush-text-on-attorney-general-nomination/article/3128043. Retrieved September 18, 2007.
- Eggen, Dan; Elizabeth Williamson (September 19, 2007). "Democrats May Tie Confirmation to Gonzales Papers". The Washington Post: A10. https://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/09/18/AR2007091801379.html?nav=rss_politics. Retrieved September 19, 2007.
- Perez, Evan; Diamond, Jeremy (January 30, 2017). "Trump fires acting AG after she declines to defend travel ban". CNN. http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/30/politics/donald-trump-immigration-order-department-of-justice/index.html.
- (in en) Opinion | Trump’s Appointment of the Acting Attorney General Is Unconstitutional. https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/08/opinion/trump-attorney-general-sessions-unconstitutional.html. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
- "Maryland Says Matthew Whitaker Appointment As Acting Attorney General Is Unlawful" (in en). NPR.org. https://www.npr.org/2018/11/12/667180873/maryland-says-matthew-whitaker-appointment-as-acting-attorney-general-is-unlawfu?t=1542261595420. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
- "Matthew Whitaker's Appointment as Acting Attorney General: Three Lingering Questions" (in en). Lawfare. 2018-11-08. https://www.lawfareblog.com/matthew-whitakers-appointment-acting-attorney-general-three-lingering-questions. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
- Jarrett, Laura. "DOJ says Whitaker's appointment as acting attorney general is constitutional". CNN. https://edition.cnn.com/2018/11/14/politics/whitaker-justice-mueller/index.html. Retrieved 2018-11-15.
- "Trump's acting attorney general leaves without creating controversial special counsels". https://www.cnn.com/2021/01/20/politics/justice-department-special-counsel-rosen-wilkinson/index.html.