Timothy Shea

Timothy Shea is an American attorney and prosecutor. Since May 2020, he has served as Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration.[1] Previously, he was interim United States Attorney for the District of Columbia, the country's largest U.S. attorney's office;[2][3] a senior counselor to U.S. Attorney General William Barr at the Department of Justice;[3] a lobbyist; and private corporate lawyer.[4]

Timothy Shea
Timothy Shea US Dept of Justice.jpg
Acting Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration
Assumed office
May 19, 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byUttam Dhillon
Interim United States Attorney for the District of Columbia
In office
February 3, 2020 – May 2020
PresidentDonald Trump
Preceded byJessie Liu
Succeeded byMichael R. Sherwin (acting)
Personal details
BornFall River, Massachusetts, U.S.
EducationBoston College (BA)
Georgetown University (JD)

During his short tenure as U.S. attorney, Shea took the controversial step of calling for a dismissal of charges against Trump associate Michael Flynn, even though Flynn had already pleaded guilty. Shea also intervened in the criminal case against convicted Trump associate Roger Stone, recommending a lighter sentence for Stone than the career prosecutors who had worked on the case.

President Trump nominated Justin Herdman on May 18 to be the permanent successor.[5] On May 18, 2020, it was also reported that Shea would be named the new Administrator for the United States Drug Enforcement Administration.[6]

Early life and educationEdit

Shea was born in Fall River, Massachusetts, into a family of five generations of firefighters.[4] He studied political science and government at Boston College, graduating magna cum laude in 1982.[4] He received his J.D. degree, graduating magna cum laude, from Georgetown University Law Center in 1991.[7]

Legal careerEdit

Shea is a "close confidant" to Attorney General William Barr and "Barr's right-hand man" at the Justice Department, according to Fox News.[2]

As a senior counselor, Shea advised Barr on changes at the Federal Bureau of Prisons after the death of the sex offender Jeffrey Epstein at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in New York City.[2] Shea also worked on the Justice Department's Operation Relentless Pursuit, aimed at reducing violent crime in seven U.S. cities.[7]

Barr has known Shea since 1991, when Shea was associate deputy attorney general for Barr in the George H.W. Bush administration.[4]

Shea has served in a variety of roles in the Justice Department. He was an assistant U.S. Attorney in Virginia between 1992 and 1997.[3][7]

Shea was chief of the Massachusetts Attorney General's Office's Public Protection Bureau from 1999 to 2001, responsible for enforcing state laws on consumer protection, elder protection, civil rights, energy, and the environment.[7]

He was chief counsel and staff director for the U.S. Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. He also worked on the staff of the House Appropriations Committee.[2]

Shea also worked as a lobbyist and private corporate lawyer.[4] He worked at the law firms Morgan, Lewis & Bockius and Bingham McCutchen.[8]

U.S. Attorney for the District of ColumbiaEdit

Barr named Shea the interim U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia on January 30, 2020. Shea replaced Jessie K. Liu, who had been U.S. Attorney since 2017.[9] The office has 300 prosecutors.[3]

Shea chose as his chief of staff David Metcalf, 34, who had been counsel to Barr's deputy attorney general, Jeffrey A. Rosen.[4]

Some high-profile investigations that Shea oversaw are related to special counsel Robert Mueller's Russia investigation.[2]

On May 18, 2020, Barr named Shea as the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. Trump nominated Justin Herdman to be Shea's permanent successor as U.S. Attorney, and Michael R. Sherwin to lead the office on an interim basis.[10][11][12][13][14]

Roger Stone sentencingEdit

A reduced sentencing recommendation for Roger Stone, a political consultant and Trump advisor who was found guilty of witness tampering and lying to investigators in the Mueller investigation on Russian interference in the 2016 election, led to a national controversy in Shea's first weeks on the job.[4] On Feb. 11, 2020, Barr took the rare step of reducing a sentencing recommendation by four prosecutors in the U.S. Attorney's office that President Donald Trump had called “very horrible and unfair".[15][16][17][18] Barr told ABC News that Shea had initially signaled to him that the recommendation would be about half the time that the line prosecutors requested.[4] Shea's name was attached to both the initial recommendation of a seven- to nine-year prison term for Stone, and Barr's version a day later that called the first version "excessive".[4] The four line prosecutors resigned from the case, and one resigned from the Justice Department entirely.[15][19]

Assistant United States Attorney Aaron Zelinsky testified to the House Judiciary Committee that he "was explicitly told that the motivation for changing the sentencing memo was political, and because the U.S. Attorney [Shea] was 'afraid of the President.'"[20]

Concord Management caseEdit

In March 2020, Shea's office dropped its two-year-long prosecution of two Russian shell companies, Concord Management and Concord Consulting, which had been charged with conspiring to defraud the United States by running a social media campaign to interfere in the 2016 presidential election.[21][22] The Justice Department said the companies were exploiting the case to gain access to information about the investigation's sources and methods that Russia could weaponize. A Mueller-related case continues against 13 Russians including a part-owner of Concord, Yevgeny V. Prigozhin, an oligarch who is sometimes known as "Putin’s chef".[22]

Michael Flynn caseEdit

Shea wrote the Justice Department's motion on May 7, 2020, to dismiss the charges against Michael Flynn, the former U.S. national security advisor to Donald Trump. Flynn had pled guilty to charges of lying to the Federal Bureau of Investigation about his conversations in 2016 with Russia's ambassador. Shea's motion said that the FBI agents’ questioning of Flynn "was untethered to, and unjustified by, the FBI’s counterintelligence investigation into Mr. Flynn."[23] Shea alone signed the court document — an unusual departure, as court filings are usually signed by lower-level career prosecutors, not political appointees.[24]

Criminal Division overhaulEdit

Shortly before his departure, Shea reorganized the criminal division of the U.S. Attorney's office. Officials had discussed an overhaul of the unit for years, but some lawyers in the office were said to express concern because some prosecutors were moved out of the public corruption unit, which handles politically sensitive matters like the Roger Stone case.[14]

Drug Enforcement AdministrationEdit

Attorney General Barr named Shea as the acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration in May 2020.[10][11][12][13]

In June 2020, Shea asked Barr to give the DEA temporary power “to enforce any federal crime committed as a result of the protests over the death of George Floyd," including the authority to conduct covert surveillance on protesters.[25] More than 100 DEA agents assisted National Guard troops in Washington during the protests.[26]


  1. ^ National Media Affairs Office, Drug Enforcement Administration Headquarters (May 19, 2020). "Attorney General Barr announces Timothy J. Shea as new Acting Administrator of Drug Enforcement Administration". Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved May 19, 2020.
  2. ^ a b c d e O'Reilly, Andrew (January 30, 2020). "Barr taps Timothy Shea to serve as top prosecutor in DC". Fox News. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  3. ^ a b c d Alexander, Keith L.; Hsu, Spencer S.; Zapotosky, Matt (January 30, 2020). "Attorney General William P. Barr names Timothy Shea, one of his counselors, as the District's interim U.S. Attorney". The Washington Post. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Hsu, Spencer S.; Alexander, Keith L.; Weiner, Rachel (February 14, 2020). "U.S. Attorney Timothy Shea's role in Roger Stone sentencing storm remains in question". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  5. ^ Alexander, Keith L.; Hsu, Spencer S.; Zapotosky, Matt (May 18, 2020). "President Trump to nominate new top prosecutor for the District". Washington Post. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  6. ^ BALSAMO, MICHAEL. "Source: Trump admin. to name new DEA head, US attorney in DC". www.wcax.com. Retrieved May 18, 2020.
  7. ^ a b c d Jasinski, Peter (February 5, 2020). "Fall River native Timothy Shea named interim US Attorney for Washington, DC". The Herald News. Fall River, MA. Retrieved February 6, 2020.
  8. ^ Mitchell, Rick (January 31, 2020). "Wake Up Call: Barr Picks Ex-Morgan Lewis Partner as Interim DC Attorney". biglawbusiness.com. Retrieved January 31, 2020.
  9. ^ "AP Exclusive: Barr names new U.S. attorney in DC". AP NEWS. January 30, 2020.
  10. ^ a b Mangan, Dan (May 18, 2020). "Prosecutor under fire for court filings benefiting Trump allies Roger Stone and Michael Flynn will become DEA chief, report says". CNBC.
  11. ^ a b "Trump to replace D.C. prosecutor in controversial Stone, Flynn cases". May 18, 2020 – via www.reuters.com.
  12. ^ a b "Source: Trump admin. to name new DEA head, US attorney in DC". AP NEWS. May 18, 2020.
  13. ^ a b Homan, Timothy R. (May 18, 2020). "Trump taps new prosecutor for DOJ office at center of Flynn, Stone controversies". TheHill.
  14. ^ a b Benner, Katie (May 21, 2020). "Justice Dept. Unit That Prosecuted Roger Stone Is Reorganized". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  15. ^ a b Allyn, Bobby (February 16, 2020). "1,100 Former DOJ Employees Call On Barr To Resign After Intervening In Stone Case". NPR. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  16. ^ Blake, Aaron (February 13, 2020). "Analysis | 6 big questions about the William Barr-Roger Stone controversy". The Washington Post. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  17. ^ Musto, Julia (February 13, 2020). "Stephanie Grisham: AG Barr realizes Roger Stone sentence recommendation was 'absolutely excessive'". Fox News. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  18. ^ Phillips, Kristine; Johnson, Kevin. "Prosecutors quit Roger Stone case as DOJ backtracks on prison recommendation for Trump ally". USA Today. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  19. ^ Barber, C. Ryan (February 17, 2020). "'A Loss to the Pursuit of Justice': Praise for Roger Stone Prosecutor Who Resigned". The National Law Journal. Retrieved February 18, 2020.
  20. ^ "Testimony to the House Judiciary Committee" (PDF). June 23, 2020.
  21. ^ Hsu, Spencer S. "Justice Dept. abandons prosecution of Russian firm indicted in Mueller election interference probe". Washington Post. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  22. ^ a b Benner, Katie; LaFraniere, Sharon (March 16, 2020). "Justice Dept. Moves to Drop Charges Against Russian Firms Filed by Mueller". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved July 11, 2020.
  23. ^ Goldman, Adam; Benner, Katie (May 7, 2020). "U.S. Drops Michael Flynn Case, in Move Backed by Trump". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  24. ^ Polantz, Katelyn. "Justice Department drops criminal case against Michael Flynn". CNN. Retrieved May 9, 2020.
  25. ^ "The DEA Has Just Been Authorized to Conduct Surveillance on Protesters". BuzzFeed News. Retrieved June 6, 2020.
  26. ^ "Hundreds of federal agents descend on DC to quell violence". theintelligencer.net. Retrieved June 6, 2020.