Sally Quillian Yates, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, is expected to be President Barack Obama’s pick for deputy attorney general.
Yates’ nomination will be announced as early as Monday or Tuesday, a federal law enforcement official confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Sunday.
Yates, 54, would replace Deputy Attorney General James M. Cole, who is stepping down in January.
Yates’ nomination, combined with Loretta Lynch’s selection to become Attorney General, will mark the first time in US history when the top two jobs at the Justice Dept have been occupied by people directly promoted from US Attorney. It will also mark the first time two women have led Department since the mid-1990s.
Yates is the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney in the Northern District of Georgia. Obama nominated her to the post and the Senate confirmed her on March 10, 2010.
Yates has 22 years of prosecutorial experience in the U. S. Attorney’s office and focused much of her career on public corruption cases. She was the lead prosecutor in the Atlanta prosecution of Olympic bomber Eric Rudolph.
Don Samuel, the prominent Atlanta defense attorney who has frequently gone up against Yates in federal court, had nothing but praise for the prosecutor on Sunday night.
“We are delighted,” Samuel said. “She’s a fabulous lawyer. We’ll miss her down here. She runs a very competent office, and I’m sure she’ll continue that on a nationwide basis.”
Yates attended the University of Georgia for undergraduate and law school. She began work as assistant US Attorney in 1989. She was hired by former U.S. Congressman Bob Barr. Yates was chief of the US Attorney’s public corruption section before being nominated to be US Attorney in 2010. Yates has been vice chairman of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee, a policy planning panel that advises Holder.