As Pete Williams Retires, NBC News Has Plans for DOJ, Supreme Court Coverage

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Veteran NBC News correspondent Pete Williams will retire at the end of the month, taking with him years of experience in covering the Department of Justice and the Supreme Court. Before he leaves, however, NBC News has unveiled plans to keep its coverage intact.

Senior White House Correspondent Kelly O’Donnell will lead NBC News’ coverage of the highest court in the U.S. on an interim basis, according to a memo sent Thursday to staffers in NBC News’ Washington bureau, while Ken Dilanian, who covers national security and intelligence, was named NBC News’ Justice and Intelligence correspondent. Julia Ainsley meanwhile, who covers the U.S. Department of Justice Department of Homeland Security, will serve as NBC News’ Homeland Security Correspondent.

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Williams, who has covered the U.S. Department of Justice and the Supreme Court for NBC for 29 years, is set to depart the Comcast unit at the end of July. He has enjoyed a unique career, logging a stint as a senior public-affairs official for the U.S. government before returning to journalism. Before joining NBC News in 1993, Williams worked as a Capitol Hill communications executive. In 1986 he joined the Washington, DC staff of then-Congressman Dick Cheney as press secretary and a legislative assistant. When Cheney was named U.S. Secretary of Defense in 1989, Williams was appointed Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs.

The reporters being placed in new roles have ample experience covering tough beats. In more than six years at NBC News, Dilanian has broken numerous exclusives on the 2016 election, the Trump-Ukraine impeachment hearings, the Biden administration’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, “Havana Syndrome” affecting U.S. diplomats abroad, and North Korean nuclear weapons development. Since President Biden took office, Ainsley has broken stories on budget shortfalls at DHS and possible surges in migrants with the proposed lift of Title 42, as well as DHS plans to alleviate overcrowding at the border by transporting migrants deeper into the country. In 2019, she was the first to report that the Trump administration was inflating the number of terrorists caught at the southern border.

O’Donnell is not taking on Supreme Court coverage permanently, and is adding it to her other responsibilities. NBC News intends to hire a full-time courts correspondent.

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