CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago’s new top federal prosecutor says while gun crimes are getting a good amount of attention from his office, there are higher priorities.
National security being top of the list, according to U.S. attorney John Lausch, who took over an office of about 150 federal prosecutors two months ago.
Lausch said the district has added three prosecutors to focus exclusively on violent crime cases, of which there are many.
“Felons that are possessing firearms, gun trafficking cases — so individuals going out of the state, really, to obtain guns illegally and then transfer them to people who are going to use them for violence,” he said Wednesday speaking to reporters for the first time since taking on his new role.
Public corruption and health care fraud will also be a priority of Lausch’s office.
During Wednesday’s chat, he declined to comment about Trump Administration officials who say those who run sanctuary cities should be charged with a crime.
“I’m not going to answer any questions on sanctuary cities, there’s pending litigation on sanctuary cities. So I’m not going to answer any questions on that; sorry to disappoint you.”
President Trump nominated Lausch as the next U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois last August. And the city’s violence problem has been on his radar, resulting in the president’s now famous promise to “send in the feds!” if Chicago cannot reverse its surge in violence.
“If Chicago doesn’t fix the horrible ‘carnage’ going on, 228 shootings in 2017 with 42 killings (up 24% from 2016), I will send in the Feds!” Trump said on Twitter.
Lausch said he is happy to be here in Chicago. He was a linebacker on Joliet Catholic’s 1987 state championship football team, and went on to play at Harvard. He says lessons learned on the gridiron will help him tackle danger on Chicago’s streets.
“It’s a big thing to be part of a team and to understand what your role is — to understand what it is to be a leader, and what it means to lead, and then to actually go out and lead.”