Justice News

Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein Delivers Remarks at the Installation Ceremony for New U.S. Marshals Service Director Donald Washington
Arlington, VA
United States
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Thursday, April 11, 2019

Thank you Associate Director Driscoll, for that kind introduction and for your exceptional work in helping to run this storied organization.

I have a unique opportunity to learn firsthand how Marshals Service employees discharge their duties.  I have worked with the men and women of the Marshals Service for almost thirty years.  And for the past two years, I have spent most of my waking hours under the reassuring protection of Deputy U.S. Marshals.  This organization is filled with men and women of tremendous skill, character, and integrity.

Serving as a law enforcement officer requires discipline and courage.  Courage drives you to chase a fugitive on the interstate, raid a building occupied by armed drug dealers, or step between an angry citizen and a person you are responsible for protecting.

After the American Revolution, as John Adams wrote in the Massachusetts Constitution, our nation chose to be “a government of laws and not of men.”  The great American experiment, which serves as a model for the world, is based on the proposition that the people can be trusted to govern themselves, and that government officials can be trusted to apply the law fairly to all citizens. 

Alexander Hamilton described the challenge in the first of the Federalist Papers.  He wrote, “[I]t seems to have been reserved to the people of this country, by their conduct and example, to decide the important question, whether societies of men are really capable or not of establishing good government from reflection and choice, or whether they are forever destined to depend for their political constitutions on accident and force.”

The rule of law represents government by “reflection and choice” rather than by “accident and force.”

Law enforcement officers play a central role in upholding the rule of law. And U.S. Marshals bear a special responsibility.

In an effort to balance powers and make our government sustainable — in James Madison’s words — “you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.”

The Marshals Service helps fulfill both of those objectives.

First of all, U.S. Marshals help to enforce our laws and bring fugitives to justice.

Second, by protecting courts and judges, you help to secure the independence of the judicial branch.

In the Marshals Service, courage is part of the job.  It has been part of the job since President George Washington appointed the first U.S. Marshal in 1789. Washington wrote that “[t]he high importance of the judicial system in our national government makes it an indispensable duty to select such characters to fill the … offices in it as would discharge their respective duties with honor to themselves and advantage to their country.”

U.S. Marshals have served with honor for almost 230 years.  You perform whatever challenging task the job requires — whether securing a federal courthouse, tracking a dangerous fugitive, or protecting an important witness. 

You work on the front lines, keeping America safe by arresting fugitives, transporting prisoners, protecting judges and Department of Justice employees, contributing to efficient court operations, forfeiting crime proceeds, and supporting other law enforcement agencies.

Today U.S. Marshals are one of the most effective and professional law enforcement agencies in the world.

Over the past decade, the Marshals Service has arrested more than one million violent fugitives.  Deputy Marshals have recovered hundreds of missing children, safely transported more than 2.5 million detainees and inmates, and completed more than 300,000 compliance checks on registered sex offenders.

People respect and admire you because of what you stand for and how you conduct yourself.  You benefit from the reputation earned by people who came before you.  Protecting that reputation requires vigilance, a commitment to truth and justice, and a realization that your actions, and those of your colleagues, affect the entire organization.

As the Director of the Marshals Service, Donald Washington will provide the leadership, integrity, and respect that the Marshals Service deserves.  He comes to this role with a long record of service in the military, in law enforcement, and in the private sector; and he possesses the expertise and personal qualities to fit the mission.

Director Washington graduated from West Point and rose to the level of Captain in the Army.

He studied to be an engineer and then went to law school.

After a decade in private practice, he served for almost ten years as a United States Attorney.

Director Washington and I served together in the Bush Administration.  He was one of the most respected U.S. Attorneys in the country.

He led a team of 75 federal AUSAs and played a key role for Louisiana in the difficult aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.

Director Washington prosecuted some of the office’s most significant cases, including securing the conviction of two judges for accepting bribes.  He also successfully prosecuted health care fraud and recovered millions of dollars that had been defrauded from the taxpayer.

U.S. Attorney Washington was chosen for the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, and he served as chair for two years.  He participated in several subcommittees of the Advisory Committee, including Terrorism, Controlled Substances, and Native American Issues.  He also led the Southeast Region Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force — which was founded by my predecessor Larry Thompson and former Attorney General Jeff Sessions, when they served as United States Attorneys.

Don filled other leadership roles as well, including the Executive Committee for Federal Prosecutors, State Attorneys General and District Attorneys.  He also led the Department’s Rule of Law Project in Nepal.

In 2010, in recognition of his exceptional support, Director Washington received an Outstanding Service award from the United States Marshals Service.

After returning to private practice, he led Louisiana’s largest regional law firm, litigating commercial disputes, white collar crimes, False Claims Act and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act compliance, environmental claims, patent infringement, and many other types of cases.

In each one of those roles, Director Washington proved himself again and again to be a patriot and a public servant devoted to the rule of law.

Don, the Attorney General and I are so grateful that you heard the call and returned once again to serve our country.  We were very proud to recommend your appointment to President Trump, and we are grateful that he chose you for this important role.

I want in particular to thank your wife for moving here with you, and your family and friends for their support.  We know that you understand the challenges that come with serving as a political appointment in our nation’s capital.

And so, I ask everyone to please join me in this message to Director Washington: thank you for taking on this charge, welcome back to the Department of Justice, and congratulations for all that you have done and all that you will do for our country.

Updated April 11, 2019