Trump to nominate Jessie Liu for No. 3 spot at Justice Dept.

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By Julia Ainsley  with NBC News Politics
Image: United States Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu speak
U.S. Attorney for the District of Columbia Jessie Liu at a news conference to discuss "efforts to reduce violent crime" at the Department of Justice on Dec. 15, 2017.   -  Copyright  Joshua Roberts Reuters file

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump intends to nominate Jessie Liu, the U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia, to be the associate attorney general, a senior U.S. official familiar with the decision tells NBC News.

The No. 3 positionat DOJ has been open since last February, when Rachel Brand left to take a position as a lawyer for Walmart.

If confirmed by the Senate, Liu will oversee the civil division, the civil rights division, the antitrust division, the office overseeing police reform, and other divisions not related to criminal prosecutions or national security. Trump's intention to nominate her was first reported by The Wall Street Journal.

Liu was nominated by Trump to serve as the head federal prosecutor in D.C. and was confirmed in September 2017. Her office has been involved in key aspects of the special counsel investigation, including the prosecution of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort and longtime confidant Roger Stone.

Liu also served on Trump's transition team, a position that Democrats raised as a potential conflict of interest during her confirmation as U.S. attorney.

Last month, Trump nominated Jeff Rosen, the Transportation Department deputy secretary, to the No. 2 post at the Justice Department, the deputy attorney general.

Rod Rosenstein,the current deputy attorney general, is expected to leave the post in the coming weeks.

Under then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Rosenstein oversaw the special counsel investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 election after the recusal of Sessions. That left whoever was in the No. 3 spot in a de facto position to take oversight powers if Rosenstein was fired, something Trump often threatened publicly.

New Attorney General William Barrannounced Tuesday that he would not recuse himself from the Mueller probe.

Liu is a graduate of Harvard University and Yale Law School.