Civil Rights Chief Leaving DOJ

By Theresa Cook

Aug 23, 2007 6:32pm

ABC News’ Theresa Cook and Jack Date Report:  The head of the Justice Department’s civil rights division announced Thursday he’s leaving his post at the end of the month. 

"For over a decade now, Wan Kim has served the Department of Justice and the American people with distinction and honor," Attorney General Alberto Gonzales said in a statement.  "I will miss his honest opinions and valuable contributions as an advisor to me."

The statement went on to champion Kim’s leadership of the division, citing "record levels of enforcement in a broad range of areas" such as criminal convictions and voting rights lawsuits.  Kim also "supervised major initiatives in the areas of human trafficking prosecutions, housing discrimination, religious liberties and the Americans with Disabilities Act," the statement said.

A Justice official says Kim is leaving for personal and professional reasons, saying he wants to spend more time with his young children and go back to private practice. 

Kim is the latest top official at the Justice Department to step down in recent months, though he has avoided most of the controversies which have plagued much of the Department’s senior leadership.  Paul McNulty left his deputy attorney general post earlier this month to join a private law firm, citing financial reasons for leaving the DOJ, while White House liaison Monica Goodling and Gonzales chief of staff Kyle Sampson left this spring as the controversy over the 2006 firing of nine U.S. attorneys began to heat up.

Gonzales has been a frequent target for criticism in recent months.  In addition to the fired prosecutors scandal, Democrats on Capitol Hill have charged that Gonzales lied to Congress under oath when testifying about controversial surveillance programs.

President Bush nominated Kim to his assistant attorney general position in June 2006, and he was confirmed by the Senate later that fall.  According to the Justice Department, Kim worked at DOJ for more than a decade, starting as a trial attorney in the criminal division, later working his way up to an assistant U.S. attorney post for the District of Columbia.

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