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Sources: 3 leading candidates for U.S. Attorney for Eastern District

Three leading candidates, each with extensive experience in the U.S. Justice Department, have emerged to be the next U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York, according to sources familiar with the process.

The appointee is the chief federal law enforcement officer for Long Island, Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island. FBI agents have been conducting fresh background checks on the candidates, who because of their previous positions have already undergone rigorous checks, the sources said.

Both President Donald Trump and U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions have made the Eastern District’s Long Island a focal point in the national war on the MS-13 street gang.

The three leading candidates are Edward McNally, now a partner in the Manhattan law firm of Kasowitz Benson Torres, whose attorneys have represented Trump in personal matters; Richard Donoghue, now a senior vice president and head litigator at CA Technologies in Islandia; and Andrew “Drew” Hruska, a partner in the Manhattan office of King and Spaulding, where a fellow partner of that firm, Christopher Wray, was just confirmed by the Senate to be head of the FBI.

None could be reached immediately for comment, nor could a spokesman for the main Justice Department in Washington, which has been screening people whose names will be passed on to Sessions and Trump. The eventual appointment must be approved by the Senate. A spokesman for the Eastern District declined to comment.

McNally, a graduate of Yale and the University of Notre Dame Law School, was named by President George W. Bush after 9/11 as the country’s first general counsel for homeland security and counterterrorism, according to his firm’s website. He also was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, and an assistant U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan. McNally’s name previously surfaced as a possible successor for Preet Bharara in the Southern District office.

Donoghue, a graduate of Hofstra and St. Johns University Law School, is a former paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne and an attorney with the Army. After his military career, he became an assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District based on Long Island, making an initial name for himself prosecuting many members of the MS-13 street gang. He eventually rose to head the Long Island office and the Eastern District’s overall criminal division.

Hruska, a graduate of Yale and the Yale Law School, rose to second in command of the Eastern District, as the chief assistant U.S. attorney. He also served as senior counsel to the Deputy U.S. Attorney General in Washington, and as a Manhattan assistant district attorney.

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