Governor Rick Scott‘s former general counsel, Jesse Panuccio, is returning to his role as acting Associate Attorney General at the federal Department of Justice, federal officials confirmed late Friday. Panuccio replaces Rachel Brand, who stepped down unexpectedly to take what she called her “dream job.” She was third in the line of succession at the Department of Justice.
Though the #2 official at DOJ, Rod Rosenstein, is currently overseeing an increasingly controversial investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election led by Special Counsel Robert Mueller, it appears that should Rosenstein step down, Panuccio would not inherit oversight of the investigation, according to a report from Fox News:
In the line of succession, Brand had been behind Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein. Rosenstein is overseeing Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. She was in line to oversee the investigation if Rosenstein stepped down.
Should Rosenstein step down now, Solicitor General Noel Francisco would take over the probe, not Panuccio. (Attorney General Jeff Sessions recused himself from the Russia inquiry last year.)
It is unclear how long Panuccio is expected to serve in the interim role. He previously held the same position from February of 2017 until May 22nd, 2017, when Brand was officially appointed by President Donald Trump. Panuccio is just 37 years old and maintains his permanent residence in Florida. He earned an undergraduate degree from Duke University and later graduated magna cum laude from Harvard Law School in 2006. He is currently one of the highest ranking Floridians in the Trump Administration along with the current Secretary of Labor, Alex Acosta.