TYLER, Texas (KETK) – Attorney General William Barr announced Wednesday afternoon that he has appointed the interim U.S. Attorney to lead the Eastern District of Texas after the sudden resignation from Joseph Brown on Tuesday.
Stephen Cox, a Texas A&M graduate, will now serve as the chief federal law enforcement office for East Texas. The district extends from Beaumont up to Texarkana.
“I am pleased to appoint Stephen J. Cox as U.S. Attorney of the Eastern District of Texas. Steve has been a consummate professional and dedicated leader throughout his time in the Office of the Associate Attorney General. Steve’s vast experience in areas ranging from regulatory reform to fraud to corporate compliance, and his reputation for fairness, sound judgment, and management, will serve him well in Eastern Texas.”Attorney General William Barr
Cox also used to serve as a senior advisor to the Director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
Under federal law, the attorney general is empowered to name interim U.S. Attorneys when there is a vacancy, but they can only serve up to 120 days. After the four-month limit, the interim nominee must be confirmed by the Senate or another person be nominated. With a Republican-controlled Senate, Cox is nearly assured to be confirmed.
Attorneys can resign or be fired with a change in administration, but many serve under multiple presidents.
Brown was a Trump-appointed attorney and was confirmed by the Senate back in 2018. Just two months before his sudden departure, a ProRepublica article reported that his office spent years pursuing a case against Walmart for its practice of prescribing opioids.
The report stated that the investigation was stopped after Walmart’s lawyers appealed to top officials at the Justice Department. Walmart has denied that any employees committed crimes. In his departure letter, Brown wrote:
“We must win the fight against opioid abuse in order to save our country. But in order to be effective, we must be willing to prosecute all facets of the expansive network that feeds these destructive drugs into our communities. Players both big and small must meet equal justice under the law.”Joseph Brown, Former US Attorney Eastern District of Texas