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Career prosecutor Chris Kavanaugh appointed U.S. Attorney for Western Virginia

Career prosecutor Chris Kavanaugh appointed U.S. Attorney for Western Virginia


A career prosecutor with experience in Washington D.C. and across Western Virginia has been appointed the region’s new U.S. Attorney.

Chris Kavanaugh was confirmed by the Senate on Tuesday, according to a statement issued by Sens. Mark Warner and Tim Kaine.

He will head prosecutions in the Western District of Virginia, which is headquartered in Roanoke and stretches from the Lynchburg area to far Southwest Virginia and north to Winchester.

“We were deeply impressed by their exceptional backgrounds,” the Democratic senators said of Kavanaugh and Jessica Aber, who was appointed U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.

Kavanaugh most recently was an assistant U.S. Attorney in Charlottesville while on duty in Washington D.C., where he served as senior counsel to the U.S. deputy attorney general.

A member of the U.S. Attorney’s office since 2014, Kavanaugh has practiced before every judge in the Western District, Warner and Kaine said. Before then, he was an assistant federal prosecutor for seven years in Washington, D.C.

His experience includes the prosecution of white supremacists who held a Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville that turned violent in 2017 and, earlier while in the nation’s capital, four private security contractors involved in a massacre in Iraq.

Kavanaugh will replace Thomas Cullen, who became a federal judge last year.

“The transition should be seamless,” Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond’s law school, wrote in an email.

Kavanaugh — who worked with Cullen in the Charlottesville riot case — is familiar with how the office operates and also had close ties to the presidential administration and the Justice Department, Tobias said.

It was not clear when he will start his new job, as President Joe Biden must sign his commission before he is sworn in, according to Brian McGinn, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Bubar has been serving as interim head of the office since Cullen left last year.

Kavanaugh is not related to U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, McGinn said.

After receiving his law degree from the University of Virginia in 2006, Kavanaugh served as a law clerk for U.S. District Judge James Cacheris in the Eastern District of Virginia. One year later, he became a prosecutor.

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Laurence Hammack covers environmental issues, including the Mountain Valley Pipeline, and business and enterprise stories. He has been a reporter for The Roanoke Times for more than three decades.

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