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Outgoing U.S. Attorney Carol Lam has been hired by Qualcomm to serve as the company’s senior vice president and legal counsel beginning Feb. 26.

Today is Lam’s last day on the job after being asked to leave by her superiors in Washington, D.C.

Also today, the Justice Department announced that Karen Hewitt, executive assistant U.S. attorney, would serve as interim U.S. attorney. According to a DOJ release, Hewitt will serve in the post until a successor is “nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate” — a sign that the Bush administration will indeed go through the typical Senate confirmation process.

The administration was freed from having to seek confirmation by a little-noticed provision included in the latest iteration of the Patriot Act. Critics of the ouster of Lam and a host of other U.S. attorneys nationwide had suggested that the administration would go around the Senate in order to put political cronies into the top law enforcement positions.

Here’s what the DOJ release has to say about Hewitt, a graduate of Valhalla High School:

In addition to being a career federal prosecutor, Ms. Hewitt is an experienced attorney manager. She currently serves as the Executive Assistant United States Attorney in the Southern District of California, supervising approximately 230 attorneys and support staff, and participating in the oversight of the office’s civil and criminal work. Prior to her appointment as the Executive AUSA, Ms. Hewitt served as Deputy Chief of the district’s Civil Division from October 2003 to January 2006, and as an Assistant United States Attorney from October 2000 to October 2003. She previously served as a Trial Attorney and Litigation Team Leader in the Constitutional and Special Torts Section of the Justice Department’s Civil Division from May 1992 to October 2000, where she was co-counsel on a litigation team that received the Secretary’s Award for Distinguished Service from the Department of Health and Human Services. From August 1989 to May 1992, Ms. Hewitt was in private practice at the former San Diego firm of McInnis, Fitzgerald, Rees, Sharkey, and McIntyre.

Ms. Hewitt is a native of San Diego County. She graduated from the University of California at Berkeley, and received her law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law.

Lam has been criticized by conservatives for failing to put a greater emphasis on border crime. The release from her office containing Hewitt’s announcement also came with this PDF that breaks down the office’s big cases between 2005 and 2007. The first category: border corruption cases.

ANDREW DONOHUE

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