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Justice Department's No. 3 official to step down after 9 months

WASHINGTON -- Rachel Brand, the No. 3 official at the Justice Department, is stepping down after less than nine months in the job, according to a person familiar with the matter.

As associate attorney general, Brand, 44, was in line to oversee special counsel Robert Mueller's probe of Russia's role in the 2016 election if Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein stepped down or was fired. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from the Russia probe.

Brand was confirmed by the Senate on May 22 after a Judiciary Committee hearing alongside Rosenstein. She is leaving for an attractive offer in the private sector, according to the person.

Any nominee to replace Brand on a permanent basis would require Senate confirmation. That process would be certain to raise questions from lawmakers about the nominee's willingness to remain independent from the Trump administration once in office, including the ability to withstand any pressure to dismiss the special counsel if asked to do so by the White House.

Brand, a Harvard Law School graduate who once clerked for Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, is a conservative who first served in the department under President George W. Bush. She supervised the department's civil, antitrust and environmental divisions, among others.


--Bloomberg News

As court weighs Microsoft case, rest of world feels a big stake in privacy ruling

WASHINGTON -- Later this month, Supreme Court justices will hear a case involving Microsoft's heated dispute with federal prosecutors over whether it must turn over data currently hosted in a storage facility in Ireland. At the heart of the legal dispute is whether U.S. courts can compel a company to turn over an individual's data when it is held overseas.

The case has drawn intense global interest, including more than a dozen legal briefs to the Supreme Court from abroad, in a sign that some parties believe a ruling may offer a future road map for the internet.


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