BISMARCK-The North Dakota senators have asked the president to keep the current U.S. attorney in his role through the new administration.
Sen. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., asked President Donald Trump on Feb. 27 to allow Chris Myers to continue serving as the U.S. attorney for the district of North Dakota.
Myers has been in the role since Obama-appointed U.S. Attorney Tim Purdon resigned in February 2015 and handed off the job. He was officially appointed a year later by Ralph Erickson, chief judge for the district, due to the continued vacancy.
"Seldom in my years of serving North Dakota have I had the privilege of working with a more capable, tenacious and focused individual," said Heitkamp, who also hired Myers as a Bureau of Criminal Investigations agent early in his career, in a statement.
Hoeven said in an interview Tuesday that he recommended Myers, a nonpartisan career prosecutor, due to his strong background, experience and recent work.
"The biggest thing is he believes in law and order," Hoeven said.
Hoeven said Myers has also been responsive to requests from the congressional delegation for assistance with such issues as bringing FBI agents to Williston, fighting the growing influx of opioids and ensuring background checks for adults living in foster care homes for Native American children.
Myers has a professional background in prosecuting organized drug crime. As U.S. attorney, he has positioned himself publicly as a leader in the fight against heroin and synthetic opioids in the state by way of prosecution and community outreach. His office has prosecuted dealers whose drugs led to overdose deaths, and Myers hosted forums in Bismarck and Fargo last year to alert people about the growing problem.
"It has been an honor to serve the citizens of North Dakota for the past 15 years in the U.S. Attorney's office," Myers said in a statement. "I am humbled by the recommendation and look forward to working with the Congressional delegation and the White House as the process moves forward."
Purdon lauded the senators' choice of Myers to continue in the post. He said Myers' strength is in prosecuting large-scale drug trafficking organizations, including ones with ties to Canada and Mexico.
"His reputation is such that he's well liked by cops and prosecutors and feared by drug kingpins across the country," said Purdon, Myers' predecessor.
Purdon said he believes Myers has come to understand the public safety issues in Indian Country, including domestic violence and sex assault.
"I'm hopeful he'll continue to make that a top priority of the office," Purdon said.
Rep. Kevin Cramer is also supporting the recommendation.
If Trump continues Myers' position, he will not need to be confirmed by the Senate, Hoeven said. By avoiding an official appointment, Myers could stay with the office as a prosecutor during a future administration or presidential appointment.
Myers joined the U.S. attorney's office in 2002, according to his official biography. Before becoming the top prosecutor, he was the lead Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force prosecutor for 10 years. Prior to that, he was a prosecutor in Clay and Cass counties and a special agent with the Bureau of Criminal Investigations.
A North Dakota native, Myers is a graduate of Fargo North High School and has a law degree from Drake University.