SPOKANE – William Hyslop will step down as US attorney for east Washington later this month at the request of President Joe Biden’s Department of Justice.
“I intend to stay active and do what I can to continue to advocate and support the law enforcement and the hard work they do for us every day,” said Hyslop, who served two terms as attorney general among two different ones Republican President held. Washington’s Eastern District comprises the entire state east of the Cascades.
The resignation allows President Biden’s formal nomination process to continue. U.S. attorneys require Senate endorsement to serve, and Hyslop was confirmed in his post in July 2019 following a nomination by President Donald Trump.
In recent months, Hyslop, who has served the state as a lawyer for more than 40 years, has made law enforcement and public awareness of the illicit opioid trafficking in the district a priority. The 69-year-old Gonzaga Law School graduate said he intends to continue this work through the end of the month and is encouraging his successor to also emphasize the fight against the trade in fentanyl, a synthetic pain reliever 50 to 100 times stronger than morphine and has become a popular and dangerous street drug.
“It’s absolutely a scourge for our community,” said Hyslop. “It’s so important that people know about it.”
U.S. assistant attorney Joseph Harrington, who served as acting U.S. attorney from March 2017 until Hyslop’s confirmation more than two years later, will resume that role after Hyslop’s departure, according to a U.S. Attorney’s press release. The two-year wait set a record for the longest vacancy in the position nominated by the President and approved by the Senate.
Washington Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray asked Biden to nominate Vanessa Waldref, a former US attorney and Gonzaga law professor, for the position. If nominated and confirmed, she will be the first woman to hold office.
Hyslop said he was told to step down by the end of the month in a conference call with acting U.S. Attorney General Monty Wilkinson on Tuesday. Prior to his first appointment by President George HW Bush in 1991, Hyslop worked for Lukins & Annis and returned after he left office in 1993. He is also a past president of the Washington State Bar Association.
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