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Biden's Justice Department to ask nearly all Trump-era U.S. attorneys to resign

Julia Ainsley and Phil Helsel
·2 min read
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The Biden administration will begin removing all Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys appointed during the Trump administration, with two exceptions, a senior Justice Department official said.

The process, which is not uncommon, could start as early as Tuesday. They will be asked to resign.

John Durham will remain in place to investigate the origins of the Russia probe, but not as U.S. attorney for the district of Connecticut, the official said. He was appointed as a special counsel and given extra protections for the inquiry by Attorney General William Barr last fall.

David Weiss, U.S. attorney for Delaware, will also remain in place. Hunter Biden, the president's son, said in December that federal officials in Delaware were investigating his taxes.

CNN was first to report the news.

U.S. attorneys are the top federal prosecutors of their districts and are political appointees.

In 2017, President Donald Trump abruptly ordered the resignation of 46 U.S. attorneys who were holdovers from the Obama administration.

When Trump ordered the resignations in 2017, a Justice Department statement at the time said the action was taken "as was the case in prior transitions."

The ordering of U.S. attorneys to resign has sometimes sparked political controversy.

In 2017, Preet Bharara, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, publicly said he did not resign and was instead fired.

Image: John Durham (U.S. Department of Justice via AP file)
Image: John Durham (U.S. Department of Justice via AP file)

Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., who at the time was ranking member on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said then that in the past there had been orderly transitions, and she was "very concerned about the effect of this sudden and unexpected decision on federal law enforcement."

In 2006, under the George W. Bush administration, there was a controversy after eight U.S. attorneys were fired.

Democrats in Congress charged that the eight dismissals were politically motivated, and some of those fired said they felt pressured by powerful Republicans in their home states to rush investigations of potential voter fraud involving Democrats, The Associated Press reported at the time.

In 2007, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales acknowledged mistakes were made. Gonzales resigned later that year.

An investigation by the Department of Justice Office of the Inspector General and the Office of Professional Responsibility later concluded that the process used to select the U.S. attorneys for removal was "fundamentally flawed" and there was evidence that partisan political considerations were a factor in the removal of several.

In 1993, Attorney General Janet Reno demanded the resignations of all 93 U.S. attorneys in the early days of the Clinton administration.