Alumni Fellow Aaron Zelinsky '02, Deputy Chief of the National Security and Cyber Crimes Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Maryland, spoke at assembly on Friday, Dec. 2, to a rapt audience of students, faculty, and staff. Delivering an address marked by humor, storytelling, and heartfelt advice, he shared details about his career along with his own personal stories of perseverance. During two Q&A sessions following, he graciously answered questions related to the many high profile cases he has been involved with throughout his career, as well as to the inner workings of cryptocurrency fraud. In a very moving and heartfelt moment, he also shared his very personal reasons for dedicating his life to public service. Zelinsky spoke of his grandparents being rescued by U.S. soldiers during the Holocaust, and explained that using his talents for storytelling and writing as an Assistant U.S. Attorney is the least he can do in service of the country that has given his family so much.
In his role at the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Zelinsky investigates and prosecutes matters including counterintelligence, counterespionage, ransomware attacks, and cryptocurrency fraud. He previously served in the Fraud and Public Corruption Section and the Major Crimes Sections for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, where he received the U.S. Attorney’s Award for Excellence in Prosecution of Organized Crime and the Deborah Johnston Award for extraordinary courage and commitment to duty while representing the United States of America. Zelinsky is also part of the St. Louis Project, a group that works to help prosecutors, lawyers, and judges exit Afghanistan and find jobs in the United States. Through the group’s efforts, 60 individuals and their families were successfully moved out of Afghanistan and dozens are now in the U.S.
From 2017-2019, Zelinsky was an Assistant Special Counsel to Robert S. Mueller, III. He led the Special Counsel’s Office investigation, prosecution, and trial in United States v. Roger Stone, a longtime associate of then-President Trump who was convicted of lying to Congress and obstructing justice in the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. When the Attorney General interfered in Stone’s sentencing following the President’s tweets, Zelinsky and the rest of the trial team withdrew from the case rather than succumb to political pressure. Zelinsky subsequently testified as a whistleblower before the House Judiciary Committee in June 2020 about these matters.
Prior to joining the Department of Justice, Zelinsky was special assistant to Legal Adviser Harold Hongju Koh ’71 HGS at the United States Department of State, where he worked on matters including American citizens kidnapped abroad, LGBT human rights, and the International Criminal Court. He clerked for Justices John Paul Stevens (Ret.) and Anthony Kennedy of the United States Supreme Court, Judge Thomas B. Griffith of the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and was a foreign law clerk for President Dorit Beinisch of the Israeli Supreme Court. He has taught at the University of Maryland Law School, the University of Baltimore Law School, and Peking University’s School of Transnational Law. He is a graduate of Yale College and Yale Law School.
The Fellows program was established in 2005 to enrich the Hopkins learning experience by exposing students to alumni who can inspire, challenge, engage and educate by sharing their unique life experiences.
Watch Aaron Zelinsky's full assembly address below. Click here to browse photos from his visit