President Joe Biden nominated Andrew Luger on Friday as Minnesota's next U.S. attorney and picked Metro Transit's police chief to be the first Black U.S. marshal to serve in the state.
Biden selected Luger as his appointment to return to the office that Luger led during the Obama administration from 2014 to 2017. The White House also announced the nomination of Metro Transit Police Chief Eddie Frizell as U.S. marshal for the District of Minnesota as part of its latest wave of federal law enforcement appointments.
Luger and Frizell mark the first major federal law enforcement leadership nominations under the Biden administration. Both must win Senate approval before taking office. Should Luger be confirmed, he would return to a job from which he was fired less than two months into the Trump administration.
The Star Tribune first reported in September that the FBI was conducting its final background check on Luger, typically seen as the final step before the formal White House nomination.
The nomination of Frizell to be the U.S. marshal in Minnesota comes months after two sheriff's deputies shot and killed a Black man in Minneapolis while assigned to a U.S. Marshals Service fugitive task force, sparking controversy about how the Justice Department was implementing its policy on body-worn cameras.
The shooting of Winston Boogie Smith Jr. in June prompted nights of protest in a city still reeling from the death of George Floyd. The officers — deputies from local sheriff's offices who work on the federal fugitive task force — were not wearing body cameras. Issues with local officers being prohibited from wearing body cameras has led some local police departments in Minnesota to pull their officers from federal task forces.
Protesters also gathered outside the home of U.S. Marshal Mona Dohman, a former Minnesota public safety commissioner appointed by President Donald Trump in 2018, to demand her resignation in the days after Smith's death. Last month, the Crow Wing County attorney reviewing Smith's death declined to file criminal charges against the undercover officers who fatally shot Smith after concluding that Smith drew a handgun on them and fired.
Frizell became Metro Transit's police chief in 2019 after a long tenure with the Minneapolis Police Department, where he served as deputy chief and inspector. If approved by the Senate, he will lead the Minnesota district operations of the country's oldest federal law enforcement agency. The Marshals Service oversees security for the federal court system and also is tasked with arresting federal fugitives.
Luger was one of three finalists for U.S. attorney, along with former assistant federal prosecutors Surya Saxena and Lola Velazquez-Aguilu. He was ordered to resign soon after Trump took office in 2017 and has been working in private practice as a partner in the law firm Jones Day in Minneapolis since leaving office.
While serving as Minnesota's top federal law enforcement official during the Obama administration, Luger oversaw major prosecutions such as the nation's largest terrorism recruitment trial and the prosecution of the man who admitted to kidnapping and killing Jacob Wetterling, decades after the boy's disappearance.
The U.S. attorney also can convene community outreach efforts and is tasked with helping coordinate joint state-federal law enforcement operations. The office is being led on an acting basis by Charles Kovats, who this week replaced Acting U.S. Attorney Anders Folk after Folk stepped down to take a position with the Office of the Deputy Attorney General in Washington, D.C.
Luger would succeed Erica MacDonald, a Trump appointee who stepped down earlier this year at Biden's request. MacDonald has since joined the Faegre Drinker law firm.
Minnesota U.S. Sens. Amy Klobuchar and Tina Smith led a search committee for U.S. attorney, which also included law enforcement officials and prosecutors from around the state.
Klobuchar urged the Trump administration to reappoint Luger in 2017. On Friday, she said that she was confident both Luger and Frizell "will serve our state with distinction."
"Andy Luger is a dedicated public servant and an excellent candidate for Minnesota's U.S. Attorney," Klobuchar said in a statement. "He previously led the United States Attorney's office for the District of Minnesota, and in that role he took on sex traffickers and major white-collar offenders. He also built positive relationships in communities across the state."
Klobuchar also touted Frizell's three decades in law enforcement while noting that he is a 30-year veteran of the Minnesota Army National Guard. That included two overseas deployments to Bosnia and Kuwait and Iraq.
Smith called the two "exceptionally well qualified to lead federal law enforcement efforts in Minnesota."
Klobuchar and Smith said they look forward to supporting both candidates during their confirmation processes.
Luger attracted some opposition when his name emerged as a finalist earlier this year. The Minnesota chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations sent a letter to the White House in March opposing Luger's potential appointment. The letter was also signed by two dozen DFL state lawmakers and scores of community groups.
But Luger also received high marks from the Minnesota County Attorneys Association, which gave Luger its meritorious service award in 2018 for his work leading the investigation and prosecution of Danny Heinrich in a case that led to the recovery of Wetterling's remains.
Lugar and Frizell either declined to comment or could not be reached for this report.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.