Stephen Boyd (attorney)

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Stephen Boyd
Stephen E. Boyd official photo 2.jpg
United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs
Assumed office
September 5, 2017
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byPeter Kadzik
Personal details
Born1979 (age 41–42)
Birmingham, Alabama, U.S.
Political partyRepublican
Spouse(s)
Brecke Latham
(m. 2016)
EducationUniversity of Alabama (BA, JD)
Signature

Stephen Elliott Boyd (born 1979) is an American lawyer who currently serves as the United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs.

Career[edit]

Boyd graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts and the University of Alabama School of Law with a Juris Doctor. He served as the communications director for Jeff Sessions when Sessions was serving as a U.S. Senator. Boyd was also chief of staff to Representative Martha Roby.[1] On April 25, 2017, Boyd was nominated by President Donald Trump for the position of Assistant Attorney General.[2][3] He was confirmed to this position by the United States Senate on August 3, 2017.[4]

United States Assistant Attorney General[edit]

As Assistant Attorney General, Boyd manages the Department of Justice's often tense oversight relationship with Congress while also seeking to implement a legislative agenda in support of the Department's law enforcement and national security mission.[5] A former holder of the same office said that Boyd was at "the front line of the struggle" between two branches of government, and that Boyd must “protect the [Justice] Department from legislative interference, but also needs to smooth the way for legitimate congressional oversight,” describing the position as dealing with a “four-alarm fire” every day.[6]

Boyd has been involved in a number of high-profile issues of interest to Congress. In August 2017, Boyd informed Congressional leaders that the Department of Justice was ending “Operation Choke Point,” an Obama-era program to discourage banks from doing business with a range of companies including payday lenders and firearm retailers.[7] In a letter to the House Committee on the Judiciary, Boyd referred to the program as a “misguided initiative.” Boyd wrote “…law abiding businesses should not be targeted simply for operating in an industry that a particular administration might disfavor. … Enforcement decisions should always be made based on facts and the applicable law.”[8]

Boyd sought[9] and won congressional approval of legislation to extend the Drug Enforcement Administration's authority to schedule synthetic opioid fentanyl variations as Schedule I narcotic, allowing federal prosecutors to more effectively fight the drug. "In the long term, we support legislation to permanently schedule fentanyl analogues as the dangerous drugs that they are while also making smart improvements to encourage medical research," Boyd said.[10]

Boyd petitioned Congress for additional resources to manage the spike in firearm sales following the coronavirus outbreak in 2019, seeking funds to boost the efficiency of the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System.[11]

Boyd advocated for a clarification in federal law to provide federal prosecutors an additional tool to fight harmful physical abuse of women and young girls.[12]

Boyd and Attorney General William Barr worked with Democratic majority in the House of Representatives to draft legislation to reauthorize three expiring provisions of the FISA law and impose new reforms on the FBI's use of the surveillance tool. The House passed the bill, H.R 6172, the USA FREEDOM ACT Reauthorization Act of 2020, but the Senate amended[13] the text. In response, Boyd said. “Although that legislation was approved with a large, bipartisan House majority, the Senate thereafter made significant changes that the Department opposed because they would unacceptably impair our ability to pursue terrorists and spies. We have proposed specific fixes to the most significant problems created by the changes the Senate made.”[14] The Congress is currently reconciling the differences between the two bills.[15]

Nunes memo[edit]

Following the planned release of a classified memo by Republican staffers regarding FISA warrants during the 2016 election, also dubbed the Nunes memo, Boyd wrote a letter writing that it would be "extraordinarily reckless" to release the memo. In his letter, Boyd also asked "why the Committee would possibly seek to disclose classified and law enforcement sensitive information without first consulting with the relevant members of the intelligence community" and went on to mention that the Justice Department was "currently unaware of any wrongdoing relating to the FISA process," but that such allegations would be taken seriously, writing "we agree that any abuse of that system cannot be tolerated." [16] President Donald Trump was reportedly furious following Boyd's letter. [17] According to Bloomberg, President Donald Trump viewed Boyd's letter as "another example of the department undermining him and blocking GOP efforts to expose the political motives behind special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe" [18] and "intensified Trump’s concern that his own department is undercutting him" [19]

On April 18, 2019, a redacted version of the special counsel's report was released to Congress and the public.[20] About one-eighth of the lines are redacted. The report is 448 pages long across two volumes and four appendices. It contains about 200,000 words and over 1,100 footnotes. About 11% of the text is redacted. Redactions were made for four reasons: harm to an ongoing matter, personal privacy, investigative techniques, and grand jury information.[21] [22]

Following the conclusion of the Special Counsel's investigation, Boyd engaged in lengthy negotiations with the House Committee on the Judiciary and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence regarding those committees’ access to redacted portions of the Special Counsel's report.[23] [24]

Ultimately, in a “rare instance of détente,” the Department and congressional leaders agreed on a plan to provide certain congressional committees access to a version of the report that protected only grand jury information.[25] Boyd wrote, “the Department is willing to move forward with efforts to accommodate the Committee’s legitimate interests, adding “to be clear, should the Committee take the precipitous and unnecessary action of recommending a contempt finding or other enforcement action against the attorney general, then the Department will not likely be able to continue to work with the Committee to accommodate its interest in these materials.”[26] House Democrats later filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia to gain access to the redacted grand jury materials.[27] The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the case in 2021.[28]

On December 9, 2019, Department of Justice Inspector General Michael Horowitz issued a report titled “Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane Investigation.”[29] While the Inspector General did not find evidence that "political bias or improper motivation influenced the FBI's decision to seek FISA authority on Carter Page", he did find 17 "significant inaccuracies and omissions" in the FBI's four FISA applications made to the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court to obtain warrants for the surveillance of Page.[30] On February 7, 2020, Boyd informed Congress Attorney General Barr had “determined that it is now in the public interest to release to Congress additional documents and information related to these matters to the extent consistent with national security interests…”[31] Thereafter, Boyd managed a process to provide Congress with redacted documents from the Department and the FBI, some recently declassified, regarding the origins of the Russia Investigation and the FBI's use of FISA authority.[32]

Personnel[edit]

In July 2020, Attorney General William Barr promoted Boyd's top deputy at the Office of Legislative Affairs, Prim Escalona, to be Interim-United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama.[33]


References[edit]

  1. ^ Laporta, Jordan (April 26, 2017). "Trump nominates another Alabamian for a leading role in the Justice Department". Yellowhammer News. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  2. ^ Koplowitz, Howard (April 25, 2017). "Donald Trump nominates Roby's former chief of staff for assistant attorney general". The Birmingham News. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  3. ^ Lauten, Elizabeth (April 25, 2017). "Martha Roby's former Chief of Staff nominated Assistant Attorney General". Alabama Today. Retrieved May 12, 2017.
  4. ^ "Tracking how many key positions Trump has filled so far". Washington Post. Retrieved August 8, 2017.
  5. ^ "Office of Legislative Affairs". Department of Justice - Office of Legislative Affairs. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  6. ^ Mike Levine (February 19, 2019). "Does a little-known DOJ official have the 'worst job in Washington'?". abc News. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  7. ^ Guida, Victoria (August 17, 2017). "Justice Department to end Obama-era 'Operation Choke Point". Politico. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  8. ^ Guida, Victoria (August 17, 2017). "Justice Department to end Obama-era 'Operation Choke Point". Politico. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  9. ^ Boyd, Stephen (January 29, 2020). "House must act to prevent deadly flood of fentanyl variants in American communities". Washington Examiner. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  10. ^ Shortell, David (January 18, 2020). "Fentanyl: Expiring tool to fight drug saved in Senate but faces uncertain future in House". CNN. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  11. ^ Swan, Betsy. "Trump Justice Department asks for more resources to enforce gun laws". Politico. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  12. ^ "Statement from Assistant Attorney General Commending House Judiciary Committee's Work to Clarify Criminalization of Female Genital Mutilation". The United States Department of Justice. March 11, 2020. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  13. ^ "Statement by Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd on the House of Representative's Consideration of Legislation to Reauthorize the U.S.A. Freedom Act". The United States Department of Justice. March 27, 2020. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  14. ^ "Statement by Assistant Attorney General Stephen E. Boyd on the House of Representative's Consideration of Legislation to Reauthorize the U.S.A. Freedom Act". The United States Department of Justice. March 27, 2020. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  15. ^ "USA FREEDOM Reauthorization Act of 2020". Congress.gov.
  16. ^ "Justice Dept.: 'Reckless' to release Nunes memo without review". CNN. Retrieved January 24, 2018.
  17. ^ "Trump furious over DOJ guidance against releasing Nunes memo: report". The Hill. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  18. ^ "The Law and Order Party Has Turned on the Law and Order Agencies". Bloomberg. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  19. ^ "On Flight to Davos, Trump Erupted Over DOJ Role in Russia Probe". Bloomberg. Retrieved January 29, 2018.
  20. ^ Mueller, III, Robert (March 2019). "Report On The Investigation Into Russian Interference In The 2016 Presidential Election [Redacted]" (PDF). The United States Department of Justice.
  21. ^ "Mueller report". Wikipedia.
  22. ^ Alvin Chang; Javier Zarracina (April 19, 2019). "The Mueller report redactions, explained in 4 charts". Vox.
  23. ^ "READ: Letter from Stephen Boyd to Jerrod Nadler". CNNPolitics. May 1, 2019. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  24. ^ Natasha Bertrand (May 21, 2019). "DOJ renews counteroffer to Schiff over unredacted Mueller report". Politico. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  25. ^ Karoun Demirjian (May 22, 2019). "ustice Department and House intelligence panel strike deal for Mueller materials". Washington Post. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  26. ^ Karoun Demirjian (May 22, 2019). "ustice Department and House intelligence panel strike deal for Mueller materials". Washington Post. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  27. ^ Alana Abramson (July 26, 2019). "House Democrats Sue for Mueller Report's Grand Jury Material, Casting It as a Major Step Toward Impeachment". TIME. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  28. ^ Amy Howe (July 22, 2020). "Court will take up dispute over secret materials from Mueller report". SCOTUSblog. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  29. ^ "Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane Investigation" (PDF). The United States Department of Justice. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  30. ^ "Review of Four FISA Applications and Other Aspects of the FBI's Crossfire Hurricane Investigation" (PDF). The United States Department of Justice. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  31. ^ Stephen Boyd. "Letter to Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Leadership from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd" (PDF). Senate Judiciary. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  32. ^ Stephen Boyd (August 21, 2020). "Letter to Senate Judiciary and Intelligence Leadership from Assistant Attorney General Stephen Boyd, August 21, 2020" (PDF). Senate Judiciary. Retrieved October 22, 2020.
  33. ^ Angel Coker (July 17, 2020). "Former Maynard Cooper associate to serve as interim U.S. attorney". Birmingham Business Journal. The Business Journals. Retrieved October 22, 2020.

External links[edit]

Legal offices
Preceded by
Peter Joseph Kadzik
United States Assistant Attorney General for the Office of Legislative Affairs
2017–present
Incumbent