Attorney General Jeff Sessions is apparently making sure no vestiges of the Obama administration remain in the Justice Department now that he’s head of it.
The department announced that Sessions is seeking the resignations of the 46 remaining U.S. attorneys who were appointed under prior presidents. Many of those nominated by President Obama have already left their positions as he exited the White House but those who stayed were asked to leave “in order to ensure a uniform transition,” according to Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores.
It is customary for the country’s 93 U.S. attorneys to leave their positions once a new president is in office, but the departures are not automatic. One U.S. attorney appointed by President George W. Bush, Rod Rosenstein of Maryland, remained on the job for the entire Obama administration and is the current nominee for deputy attorney general.
Tim Purdon, a former U.S. attorney for North Dakota in the Obama administration, recalled that Obama permitted Bush appointees to remain on until their successors had been appointed and confirmed.
“The way the Obama administration handled it was appropriate and respectful and classy,” he said. “This saddens me because many of these people are great public servants and now they are being asked to leave.”
It was not immediately clear when each of the prosecutors would resign, or if they all actually will. And the request for resignations doesn’t necessarily mean Sessions plans to accept all of them. In November, Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, said that he’d been asked by Trump to stay on and that he intended to.
Bharara’s office declined to comment Friday.
Montana’s U.S. Attorney Mike Cotter said he received a phone call from Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente telling him “the president has directed this.”
“I think it’s very unprofessional and I’m very disappointed,” he said. “What happened today on Friday, March 10, that was so important that all Obama appointees who are US attorneys need to be gone?”
With Reporting by the Associated Press.