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Now retired, Crofts reflects on life of service

Apr 23, 2017 By Katie Roenigk, Staff Writer

Christopher A. "Kip" Crofts of Wyoming was one of 46 U.S. Attorneys asked to resign March 10 as part of the transition to President Donald Trump's administration.

Formerly from Lander, Crofts, 75, had served as U.S. Attorney for the District of Wyoming since 2010, after President Barack Obama appointed him to the post.

"It was a great honor and privilege to be named," Crofts said. "It has been my distinct pleasure to work with the men and women of the Wyoming United States Attorney's Office for the past seven years."

Transition

After the election last November, Crofts said he knew he'd ultimately be asked to resign.

"(These) are presidential appointments," he said. "When you get that, you know you live by the sword and you die by the sword."

He was caught unawares by the abrupt nature of his removal, however.

"We were told to expect to stay in place until a replacement was named," Crofts said. "That's kind of what I was planning on. Then unexpectedly March 10 I got the call, as we all did, asking us to resign."

He doesn't begrudge the Trump administration its decision.

"They were entitled to it," Crofts said. "That's what happens - sometimes they do it immediately like that. Sometimes they wait."

Crofts' replacement has not yet been named. For now, his post is being filled by his former first assistant, John R. Green, who took over March 11 as Acting United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming.

Crofts guessed a permanent replacement won't be in place until the end of the year.

"It takes a while," he said. "It's kind of a slow process."

When he was appointed, he said the confirmation process lasted a year and involved in-depth vetting, an extensive background check and "an incredible number of forms."

"I had to list every job I'd had, every place I'd lived since I was 18," Crofts said.

His residence history starts in Lander, where he was raised. Crofts graduated in 1960 from the Fremont County Vocational High School then went to the University of Wyoming where he was part of the Reserve Officers' Training Corps. He was commissioned as a U.S. Army officer and served in the Dominican Republic and Vietnam for almost five years before becoming a junior high school teacher in Laramie. Next he headed to law school at UW, graduating in 1974.

In 1978, Crofts was appointed to be the legal advisor and assistant director of the Division of Criminal Investigation. He became DCI director in 1981 and served in that capacity until 1990, when he became an Assistant U.S. Attorney. He worked in the Casper office until 1995, when Dave Freudenthal - then United States Attorney for the District of Wyoming - opened a location in Lander.

Crofts worked in his hometown for 10 years.

In 2005, he went to Iraq as a Department of Justice representative on a Provincial Reconstruction Team - a group designed to achieve political objectives, work to counter terrorism and promote social and economic development, according to the United States Institute of Peace.

"I had been an Army officer in Vietnam in the '60s, and they were looking for people who knew how to work in a conflict environment, so I volunteered to go," Crofts said.

He characterized his time in Iraq as "a challenge." Shortly after he arrived, he recalled, the Golden Mosque in Samarra was bombed, leading to sectarian violence between the Sunnis and the Shiites.

"It was very frustrating," he said. "It was hard to do much in terms of improving (the situation)."

When he returned to the United States, he went to work as legal counsel for Freudenthal, who had become Wyoming's governor in 2003. It was Freudenthal who nominated Crofts to the U.S. Attorney post in 2010.

Usually, Crofts explained, the call for U.S. Attorney appointments goes to the senior senator from the president's party. But since everyone in Wyoming's federal delegation was a Republican and Obama was a Democrat, the senior Democratic office holder in the state - Freudenthal - got to pick the nominee.

Crofts said he enjoyed returning to the DOJ.

"I was working with the people I had been working with for years, who are great people," he said. "I was responsible for a lot of great lawyers (who) do great work."

Any success he has enjoyed in his career he attributes to the people he has worked with.

"It's not about me," he said. "In all of those jobs I've had great people working for me and with me. ... I've enjoyed it all. (And) I've done quite a few different things. I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up."

He plans to spend in retirement living in Cheyenne, where he has a son and grandchildren, but Crofts says he will visit Fremont County to see his siblings, nieces and nephews.

"I've got pretty strong roots up there," Crofts said. "My family has been in Fremont County since the 1880s. Fremont County is my home."

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