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Well-connected rookie judge in Benghazi case responds to In the Loop

An armed man waves his rifle as buildings and cars are engulfed in flames after being set on fire inside the US consulate compound in Benghazi on September 11, 2012. (Photo: STR/AFP/GettyImages)

Before the well-attended, but uneventful, hearing for the suspect in the 2012 Benghazi attacks got underway in federal court Tuesday morning, newly-minted U.S. District Judge Christopher “Casey” Cooper said he had something personal to share regarding recently published reports.

Actually, there likely was only one report, by our colleague, Ann Marimow, that was posted Monday on the In the Loop blog and in Tuesday’s print edition of The Washington Post. The item noted that Cooper had been part of the Obama administration’s transition team and that his wife, Amy Jeffress, a former national security adviser to Attorney General Eric Holder, once ran the national security section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office that has charged Ahmed Abu Khattala and mentored the lead prosecutor on the case, Michael DiLorenzo.

Casey said he was addressing the item primarily for the benefit of the defendant. (Who knew Khattala read the Loop inside the fortified detention center in Alexandria?)

“While I don’t have a personal relationship with any of the [prosecutors],” Casey said, “I do want to put on the record that my wife formerly supervised the office that is prosecuting this case.” Cooper said  that his wife left the office in January 2008 and he made sure to note this was well before the deadly attacks on U.S. outposts in Benghazi that Abu Khatalla is alleged to have helped organize.

“I don’t view this as presenting a conflict,” Cooper said. Neither Khatalla’s lawyers nor the prosecutors responded to Cooper’s statement, Marimow reported.

Hey! What about Cooper’s roommate and close friend at Yale being John Rice, brother of Obama’s National Security Adviser Susan Rice?



Al Kamen, an award-winning columnist on the national staff of The Washington Post, created the “In the Loop” column in 1993.



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