|Ronald C. Machen|
|United States Attorney for the District of Columbia|
February 2010 – March 31, 2015
|Appointed by||Barack Obama|
|Preceded by||Kenneth L. Wainstein|
|Succeeded by||Vincent H. Cohen, Jr. (Acting)|
|Alma mater||Stanford University (B.A.)
Harvard Law School (J.D.)
Early life and education
Machen grew up in Detroit, Michigan. He attended Stanford University, where he was a walk-on wide receiver for the Stanford Cardinal football team. Machen graduated from Stanford in 1991 with bachelor degrees in economics and political science. He earned his Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1994. After graduating from Harvard, Machen served as a law clerk to the Honorable Damon J. Keith, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit.
On December 23, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Machen to serve as the United States Attorney for the District of Columbia. He was confirmed by the United States Senate on February 11, 2010.
On September 12, 2014 Machen set up the first federal unit in the nation to identify and investigate cases that ended in wrongful convictions.The unit will review cases in which defendants convicted of violent felonies can offer new evidence, such as DNA testing, that may establish innocence. A number of prosecutors’ offices have established similar units in recent years, including the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office and the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office in Texas.
Machen resigned and, on April 1, 2015, was succeeded by Vincent H. Cohen, Jr., as Acting United States Attorney for the District of Columbia.
Lois Lerner contempt case in the IRS targeting controversy
In May 2014, Machen began investigating the embattled director of the tax-exempt organizations division of the Internal Revenue Service, Lois Lerner, for Contempt of Congress with regard to her statements before a congressional committee involving the 2013 IRS targeting controversy.
On March 31, 2015, Machen issued a seven-page letter to Speaker John Boehner of the U.S. House of Representatives to the effect that Machen had concluded that Lerner did not waive her privilege against compelled self-incrimination. Machen asserted that because Lerner made only "general denials" of wrongdoing, her statements did not amount to "testimony" that would have waived her privilege.
Machen also asserted another possible reason that, in his view, Lerner could not be found to have waived her Fifth Amendment privilege. Citing the U.S. Supreme Court decision in McCarthy v. Arndstein, Machen stated that Lerner was an ordinary witness compelled to testify by subpoena and that "where the previous disclosure by an ordinary witness is not an actual admission of guilt or incriminating facts, he is not deprived of the privilege of stopping short in his testimony whenever it may fairly tend to incriminate him."
Crackdown on leaks
Machen participated in the Espionage Act case against Dr. Stephen Jin-Woo Kim after Kim told a reporter that North Korea would probably test its nuclear program. The case was controversial because it was one of a string of unprecedented uses of the Espionage Act against officials for speaking with journalists .
Shortly after the 2012 attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, Libya, and the death of the American ambassador, the U.S. Attorney of Washington, D.C. was assigned the case. Ahmad Khattala has been arrested and awaits trial. Questions have been raised why this case is being handled in this office, and not others with more experience in this type of case.
Official website: http://www.justice.gov/usao/dc/about/meetattorney.html
- Alexander, Keith L. (April 19, 2010). "D.C.'s U.S. attorney: One foot in court, one in the streets". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- Kiefer, David (September 23, 2009). "FOOTBALL: Former Cardinal could be top prosecutor". gostanford.com. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- The White House: Office of the Press Secretary (December 24, 2009). "President Obama Nominates Seven U.S. Attorneys". whitehouse.gov. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- "Machen nominated to serve as U.S. Attorney for D.C.". Harvard Law School.
- Ingram, David (February 12, 2010). "Senate Confirms U.S. Attorney for D.C.". The Blog of Legal Times. Retrieved February 20, 2011.
- DeBonis, Mike; Stewart, Nikita (July 12, 2012). "D.C. Politics". The Washington Post.
- Ramstack, Tom. "Washington U.S. attorney sets up first unit to ID wrongful convictions". Reuters. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
- Information release, Meet the U.S. Attorney, Office of the U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia, U.S. Department of Justice, at .
- Report (May 8, 2012). "US Attorney To Oversee Lerner Contempt Case Appointed By Obama". CBS DC..
- Letter from Ronald C. Machen, United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, U.S. Dep't of Justice, to The Honorable John A. Boehner, Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives, March 31, 2015, p. 5.
- Letter from Ronald C. Machen, United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, U.S. Dep't of Justice, to The Honorable John A. Boehner, Speaker, U.S. House of Representatives, March 31, 2015, p. 5, citing and quoting McCarthy v. Arndstein, 262 U.S. 355, 359 (1923).
- Ex-Contractor at State Dept. Pleads Guilty in Leak Case, New York Times, CHARLIE SAVAGE, FEB. 7, 2014. See also Statement of Offense, US District Court, DC, 2014 February (court document), via the Federation of American Scientists website
- Holder decision questioned