President Bush has selected former federal judge Michael Mukasey as his new attorney general. Mukasey has a reputation for being tough and impatient, which is fortunate considering that he’ll have only 15 months to turn around an ailing Justice Department.


Mukasey, the former chief U.S. district judge in the Manhattan courthouse just blocks from ground zero, will likely face a relatively smooth confirmation by a Democratic-led Senate that has demanded new Justice Department leadership for months. He replaces Alberto Gonzales, a Texan who announced his departure three weeks ago amid investigations that began with the firing of U.S. attorneys and mushroomed into doubts about his credibility.

Appointed to the bench in 1987 by President Reagan, Mukasey also worked for four years as a trial prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office in New York’s southern district — one of the Justice Department’s busiest and highest-profile offices in the country.

“The department faces challenges vastly different from those it faced when I was an assistant U.S. attorney 35 years ago,” Mukasey, 66, said as he stood next to Bush on the White House lawn. “But the principles that guide the department remain the same: to pursue justice by enforcing the law with unswerving fidelity to the Constitution.”

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