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Trump nominates 2 to fill East TN federal judicial vacancies

Katherine Crytzer and Chuck Atchley face Senate approval.

KNOXVILLE, Tennessee — At the suggestion of Tennessee's two U.S. senators, President Trump on Wednesday announced he's nominating a veteran federal prosecutor and a lawyer who already was being considered as TVA inspector general for two federal judicial vacancies.

The nominees are Chuck Atchley Jr., first assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of Tennessee in Knoxville, and Katherine A. Crytzer, acting deputy assistant attorney general at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Policy who already had a pending nomination to be the TVA  IG.

They would replace Chattanooga-based Harry Mattice, who retired in March and Pamela L. Reeves, the Knoxville-based judge who succumbed last week to cancer.

As is practice, they were recommended by Tennessee's senators, Lamar Alexander and Marsha Blackburn.

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Alexander, who is retiring later this year, released a statement Wednesday about the nominations.

“Chuck Atchley is the first assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Tennessee and has spent nearly 20 years working on behalf of East Tennesseans in the federal court system. He is a man of good character, good temperament, high intelligence, and he has a high respect for the law,” the statement reads. “Katherine Crytzer has served for the last six years at the Justice Department as the acting deputy assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Policy, and, before that, as an assistant United States attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky."

If approved, Crytzer would be the second woman to be a federal district judge for the Eastern District of Tennessee. Reeves was the first.

Alexander noted that Blackburn sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee, which reviews nominees to federal judgeships.

"I look forward to working with Senator Blackburn to get both of these well-qualified individuals confirmed this year," Alexander said in the release.

The U.S. Senate confirms nominees. The Senate Judiciary Committee typically conducts the confirmation hearings.

Republicans now narrowly control the Senate. If they were to lose the majority in November, Democrats would take over in January.

A handful of Republican seats in play Nov. 3 are widely considered tossups at the moment.