News & Politics

6 Things US Attorney Ron Machen Said Wednesday Night

The District’s top prosecutor talked (as much as he could) about his investigations into local politicians and other issues.

US Attorney for the District of Columbia Ron Machen with NBC4's Tom Sherwood. Photograph by Benjamin Freed.

Ron Machen, the US attorney for the District of Columbia, isn’t really allowed to talk about the particulars of his job, especially when he’s leading investigations into, among other things, shady government contractors, national security whistleblowers, and, of course, DC Mayor Vince Gray’s 2010 campaign.

But Machen was still willing to talk about the broad strokes last night at the Hill Center in Southeast DC, where he sat down with NBC4’s Tom Sherwood in front of a small audience. Over the course of about 45 minutes, Machen commented—and declined to comment—on many issues, though on his most well-known case, he’s still keeping quiet on the details.

But Machen said even with a mayoral election coming up, his investigation isn’t slowing down. And in what might be the most unsettling thing for occupants of the John A. Wilson Building to hear, Machen said that even though his almost-four-year tenure as a US attorney is long for the position, he’s not planning on quitting any time soon.

On whether a recent lack of charges means the “shadow campaign” investigation drawing down:

“It’s not like we’ve been looking at this for three years and there’s no there there. I mean, there’s there there and we’re trying to gather information.”

On whether DC fosters a “culture of corruption”:

“The business of DC is politics. Corruption is the name of the game here. You can’t ignore that you have had three Council members [Harry Thomas, Jr., Kwame Brown, Michael A. Brown] plead guilty, but I judge those individuals on their own.”

On whether an impending April 1 primary election can affect his investigation into Gray’s 2010 campaign:

“We know there’s a sense of urgency. But the people of this city want us to get this right. Our decision is based on the facts and whether a person violated criminal law.”

On whether DC should have an elected attorney general:

“I think it’s important to have an independent attorney general. I think it’s important for people of DC to elect an attorney general. You need candidates of quality.”

On the possiblity of the District decriminalizing marijuana:

“We think there are a lot of problems with trying to decriminalize marijuana possession. We’re studying the bill.”

On whether the Redskins should change their name:

“All I can say is it’s something people should consider.”

Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.