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News >  Idaho

Biden’s Idaho U.S. attorney pick instrumental in prosecuting Aryan Knights gang

UPDATED: Fri., April 22, 2022

By Ian Max Stevenson Idaho Statesman

BOISE – An assistant U.S. attorney who headed the federal prosecution against an Aryan Knights white supremacist gang leader could soon be the new U.S. attorney for the District of Idaho.

President Joe Biden has nominated Joshua D. Hurwit, 41, who has worked in the U.S. attorney’s office since 2012, to the position on Friday, according to a news release from the White House. Hurwit would be the top Department of Justice official in Idaho, who will be responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the state.

U.S. attorneys are nominated by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate, with the states’ senators providing recommendations. Biden’s Justice Department asked Donald Trump-appointed attorneys to step down last year, something Trump did in 2017 with Barack Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys.

“I am honored and looking forward to the confirmation process,” Hurwit told the Idaho Statesman by phone.

Hurwit formerly worked for major American law firms and clerked for Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, according to the news release. He went to Harvard Law School and received a bachelor’s degree from Stanford University.

Hurwit’s predecessor and former Idaho Senate Majority Leader Bart Davis was nominated by Trump and resigned last year. Since then, Rafael M. Gonzalez, Jr. has been serving as acting U.S. attorney in Idaho.

Hurwit ‘extremely thorough and fair,’ Rubel says

Hurwit’s work includes investigations into racketeering charges against a white supremacist prison gang – which resulted in a sentence of life imprisonment for the group’s leader – and the prosecution of an Idaho state prison inmate who mailed death threats to a Washington state judge.

He was involved in the settlement over air pollution violations involving a Lewiston paper company, and successfully prosecuted a Shoshone dairy farm for violating the Clean Water Act.

Idaho House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel, D-Boise, and Hurwit became friends after meeting in a Harvard Law School alumni group in Boise. She said he has an exceptional record on environmental, white collar and other criminal investigations.

“He’s known for being extremely thorough and fair,” Rubel told the Statesman by phone, noting that Hurwit, who has worked under U.S. attorneys nominated by Democratic and Republican administrations, performs well under leaders of different parties.

Davis, in a February exit interview last year, told the Statesman he felt confident in the employees he hired, and secure in leaving the U.S. attorney’s office in their hands.

“They believe in the mission of the Department of Justice,” Davis said, “and I believe in them.”

Rubel added that she admires Hurwit’s focus on cases that only U.S. attorneys can investigate.

“He doesn’t view the job as one where you should be duplicating the work that any state, local prosecutor can do,” she said. “Josh is fantastic. We are really, really fortunate to have him filling this role.”

In addition to enforcing federal law, U.S. attorneys enforce civil statutes and defend the country against lawsuits, according to the Department of Justice website. The District of Idaho’s office is in Boise, while satellite offices are in Pocatello and Coeur d’Alene.

Hurwit’s selection was announced along with four other nominees for U.S. attorneys and three new nominees for U.S. marshals across the country.

In the announcement, the White House said Biden proposes to “significantly” increase funding for law enforcement to address “the rising crime rate this administration inherited last year.”

Hurwit has served since 2012 as an assistant U.S. attorney in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Idaho, spanning the Obama, Trump and now Biden presidential administrations.

“He’s known for being extremely thorough and fair,” Idaho House Minority Leader Ilana Rubel told the Idaho Statesman. She told the newspaper that Hurwit has “an exceptional record on environmental, white collar and other criminal investigations,” the Statesman reported Friday.

Hurwit previously worked as an associate at three law firms: Covington & Burling LLP, Kirkland & Ellis LLP and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP. He also previously clerked for Judge Naomi Reice Buchwald on the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York.

Hurwit is a graduate of Stanford University and Harvard Law School.

“These individuals were chosen for their devotion to enforcing the law, their professionalism, their experience and credentials in this field, their dedication to pursuing equal justice for all, and their commitment to the independence of the Department of Justice,” the news release said.

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