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The exterior of the Department of Justice headquarters building in Washington, D.C. Photo by Jonathan Ernst/Reuters

Senate narrowly confirms new head of Justice Department’s criminal division, who worked for Russian bank

WASHINGTON — The Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Justice Department’s criminal division.

Brian Benczkowski was narrowly confirmed with a 51-48 vote. Democrats have strongly opposed the nomination, partly because of his work for a leading Russian bank with ties to President Vladimir Putin. Democrats say his Russian ties could complicate special counsel Robert Mueller’s ongoing investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election.

Democrats also said Benczkowski does not have enough experience in federal courtrooms.

Benczkowski was a partner at Kirkland & Ellis law firm and Justice Department official during the Bush administration. He also served as an aide to then-Sen. Jeff Sessions.

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