Judge who could decide Trump’s fate once lived with Supreme Court justice Brett Kavanaugh
The new chief judge at the District Court in Washington, DC who will oversee the special counsel investigations into former President Donald Trump by the Department of Justice was once a roommate of Trump Supreme Court appointee Brett Kavanaugh while they were at law school.
Judge James Boasberg, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, has been lauded by both Republican and Democratic presidents in the past and he has also overseen some legal proceedings in connection to the insurrection on January 6, 2021, as he placed one defendant under home confinement, according to Newsweek.
Judge Boasberg was scheduled to take over from outgoing Chief Judge Beryl Howell on Friday, according to The New York Times. Judge Howell has overseen the federal grand jury looking into Mr Trump’s attempt to overturn the 2020 election. She became chief judge in 2016.
Judge Boasberg, who goes by Jeb, is starting out his seven-year term in the post by overseeing the federal investigations into the former president.
He lived with Justice Kavanaugh and six other students when they both attended Yale Law School in New Haven, Connecticut, CNN noted.
They remain friends and the group of eight goes on a trip together each year, according to Newsweek.
Before Justice Kavanaugh was confirmed to the Supreme Court in 2018, The New York Times reported that his “talents did not always stand out at Yale, where his class was full of academic stars and would produce several federal judges. One of them, James E. Boasberg, now a United States District Court judge in Washington appointed by President Barack Obama, lived in the house and remains a close friend of Judge Kavanaugh”.
Large parts of the activities of the grand jury have not been shared with the media, and Judge Howell has denied press requests that her rulings be unsealed.
Judge Howell told The New York Times that Judge Boasberg is “well suited to be the next chief judge”. She pointed to his experience, expertise, and multitasking ability.
“The grand jury presents oftentimes novel issues and issues that deal with high-profile individuals, generating an enormous strobe light of press attention,” she told the paper. “Judge Boasberg has the seasoning on the bench, the legal expertise, and the ability to manage and juggle multiple matters that makes him very well suited to be the next chief judge.”
There are no signs that the change will lead to any significant shift in approach to the federal investigations.
“I think she did a terrific job of guiding the court through Covid, and the dislocation that it brought,” Judge Boasberg told The New York Times regarding his predecessor. “She also has had to contend with two complicated special counsel investigations and all of the grand jury work that that entails. We were lucky to have her at the helm during this period.”
Judge Randolph Moss at the DC District Court told The New York Times that “even the other judges on the court don’t have much of an insight into what has been going on in the grand jury”.
“As he is walking along, he has his nose in a book,” he said of Judge Boasberg. “And if you want to know what the new things out are to read, Jeb will tell you the last 10 big things and what he thought of them.”
Another colleague, Judge Dabney Friedrich, told the paper that in the courtroom, “he gets to the crux of the problem quickly, doesn’t get bogged down in details, has a lot of common sense and communicates clearly”.
He’s “calm under pressure and seems unflappable to me,” she added.
In an October 2021 sentencing hearing, he placed a Capitol rioter in three months of home confinement, which was in line with the request of the prosecution.
“I can’t emphasize enough, as I’ve said before, that the cornerstone of our democratic republic is the peaceful transfer of power after an election,” he told the defendant. “And what you and others did on January 6 was nothing less than an attempt to undermine that system of government.”