Justice Department Number 2 Stepping Down

The Justice Department’s number 2 is stepping aside.

Deputy Attorney General David Ogden will leave DOJ in February 2010 to return to private practice at Wilmer Hale, the department has announced.Ogden, a former Clinton administration official, led the Obama DOJ’s transition effort, then stayed on as Deputy AG. In that role, he has managed the department’s day-to-day operations.

In a statement, Ogden portrayed the move as always part of the plan.

I took a leave from my practice of law thirteen months ago on Election Day to lead the Department of Justice transition for President Obama. My hope then was to identify the goals for a successful transition at a critical time for the Department, when its credibility was under attack and when its traditional law enforcement missions had suffered. During the transition, President-elect Obama and Attorney General-designate Holder asked me to serve as the Deputy Attorney General, which gave me the opportunity to complete the transition process and see the Department solidly on a path to achieving those goals. I accepted that challenge, with the intention of returning to my practice as soon as I felt the Department was firmly on that path.

Still, the Washington Post notes that Ogden “did not have deep experience with criminal law issues,” and that he “sometimes crossed swords” with Holder.

The White House referred questions to the Justice Department.