2017 dismissal of U.S. attorneys controversy

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On March 10, 2017, Jeff Sessions, who was appointed United States Attorney General by President Donald Trump, requested the resignations of 46 United States Attorneys.[1] Sessions' move came less than 24 hours after Sean Hannity, the Fox News commentator and host of The Sean Hannity Show, called for the "immediate expulsion", or a "purge", of Barack Obama appointees at the United States Justice Department in his show's opening monologue.[2][3] Some resignations may be rejected by Sessions or Trump.[1][2]

Resignations[edit | edit source]

  1. Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York[1][3]
  2. Dana Boente, United States Deputy Attorney General
  3. Robert Capers, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York[1]
  4. Mike Cotter[4]
  5. Deirdre Daly, United States District Court for the District of Connecticut[5][6]
  6. Eileen Decker[7]
  7. Paul J. Fishman, United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey[8]
  8. Barbara L. McQuade, United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan[9]
  9. Rod J. Rosenstein, United States Attorney for the District of Maryland[10]

Bharara had been asked to maintain his position in November 2016 by then President-elect Donald Trump.[11]

Declined resignations[edit | edit source]

Trump declined to accept the resignations of Dana Boente, who serves as Deputy Attorney General, and Rosenstein, who Trump has selected to become Deputy Attorney General.[12][13][14]

Reactions[edit | edit source]

Media[edit | edit source]

Initial media reports described Sessions' move as abrupt and unexpected, but not unprecedented.[1][3] Slate's Leon Neyfakh accused media outlets of sensationalizing Sessions' actions, which he said were "nothing particularly unusual or surprising". Neyfakh describes the repeated mass firings of U.S. attorneys accompanying each presidential transition.[2] The Washington Post contrasted the Trump administration's decision with those of George W. Bush and Barack Obama, who replaced U.S. attorneys gradually.[15]

Politicians[edit | edit source]

Dianne Feinstein (Calif.) criticized the "abrupt firing" and said, "Under previous administrations, orderly transitions allowed U.S. attorneys to leave gradually as their replacements were chosen. This was done to protect the independence of our prosecutors and avoid disrupting ongoing federal cases. At a time when Attorney General Sessions has recused himself from major investigations into the Trump campaign, the independence of federal prosecutors could not be more important."[4][16]

Tim Purdon, who served as U.S. attorney for the District of North Dakota from 2010 to 2015, said: "The way the Obama administration handled it was appropriate and respectful and classy. This saddens me because many of these people are great public servants and now they are being asked to leave."[4]

Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) said he was "troubled to learn of reports of requests for resignations from the remaining U.S. Attorneys, particularly that of Preet Bharara."[16][17]

Resignees[edit | edit source]

In his resignation statement, Capers wrote, "This afternoon, I was instructed to resign my position as United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York, effective March 10, 2017. It has been my greatest honor to serve my country, New York City and the people of this district for almost 14 years, with the last 17 months serving as United States Attorney."[18]

Cotter said, "I think it's very unprofessional and I'm very disappointed. What happened today on Friday, March 10, that was so important that all Obama appointees who are US attorneys need to be gone? I gotta write that (resignation) letter. It's going to be a one-liner."[4]

Daly's office released a statement which said, "It has been a great honor and privilege to serve as Connecticut's United States Attorney. In fact, it has been a gift of a lifetime. I am extremely proud of the tremendous accomplishments of the men and women of this office during my tenure."[5]

Fishman said in his statement, "It has been the greatest professional experience that I can possibly imagine to have served in this office for the past seven-and-a-half years. Having spent so much of my career working to protect the interests of the people of New Jersey, I can think of no greater form of public service. I am enormously grateful for the opportunity I was given to lead the men and women who work in this office. They are the most extraordinary group of public servants I have ever known, and I am more than honored to have been their colleague."[8]

McQuade said, "I have loved serving in this job as much as anyone has ever loved any job. It has been an incredible privilege to work alongside public servants who devote their tremendous talents to improving the quality of life in our community. I am proud to have served as U.S. Attorney in the Obama Administration."[9]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Schechtman, Joel; Hosenball, Mark (March 10, 2017). "Sessions asks 46 Obama-era U.S. attorneys to resign". Reuters. http://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-trump-justice-prosecutors-idUSKBN16H2K8. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Neyfakh, Leon (March 10, 2017). "Yes, Trump and Sessions Just Cleaned House at the DOJ. No, It’s Not Shocking.". Slate (The Slate Group). http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2017/03/10/_46_u_s_attorneys_are_asked_to_resign_as_trump_and_sessions_clean_house.html. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Joseph, Cameron; Bekiempis, Victoria; Dillon, Nancy (March 10, 2017). "AG Jeff Sessions seeks Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara's resignation along with 45 others". New York Daily News. OCLC 9541172. http://www.nydailynews.com/news/politics/ag-jeff-sessions-asks-46-u-s-attorneys-resign-article-1.2994635. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 "Sessions seeks resignations of 46 U.S. attorneys". USA Today (Gannett Company). March 10, 2017. ISSN 0734-7456. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/10/attorney-general-seeks-resignations-of-46-us-attorneys/99020566/. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 Mahony, Edmund H. (March 10, 2017). "Connecticut's U.S. Attorney Quits After Sessions Asks For Resignations Of Obama Appointees". Hartford Courant (tronc). ISSN 1047-4153. OCLC 8807834. http://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-usatty-daly-resignation-0311-20170310-story.html. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  6. Wenzel IV, Joseph (March 10, 2017). "U.S. Attorney General for CT resigns after Sessions announcement". Hartford, Connecticut: WFSB. http://www.wfsb.com/story/34726952/us-attorney-general-for-ct-resigns-after-sessions-announcement. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  7. Wilber, Del Quentin (March 10, 2017). "Jeff Sessions asks 46 Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys to resign". Los Angeles Times (tronc). ISSN 0458-3035. OCLC 3638237. http://www.latimes.com/politics/washington/la-na-essential-washington-updates-jeff-sessions-asks-46-obama-era-u-s-1489181229-htmlstory.html. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  8. 8.0 8.1 "N.J. federal prosecutor Fishman resigns at Trump's request". The Record (Woodland Park, New Jersey: Gannett Company). March 10, 2017. http://www.northjersey.com/story/news/politics/2017/03/10/attorney-general-seeks-resignations-46-us-attorneys/99026866/. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  9. 9.0 9.1 Burns, Gus (March 10, 2017). "Trump orders U.S. Attorney for eastern Michigan Barbara McQuade to resign". MLive.com (Advance Publications). http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2017/03/donald_trump_orders_us_attorne.html. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  10. Reilly, Ryan J. (March 10, 2017). "Jeff Sessions Asks Top Federal Prosecutors To Resign". The Huffington Post. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/jeff-sessions-us-attorneys-resign_us_58c30cb2e4b054a0ea6aa6a3. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  11. "US Attorney General Jeff Sessions asks 46 Obama-era attorneys to resign". The Straits Times (Singapore: Singapore Press Holdings). March 10, 2017. OCLC 8572659. http://www.straitstimes.com/world/united-states/us-attorney-general-jeff-sessions-asks-46-obama-era-us-attorneys-to-resign. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  12. Farrell, Greg; Berthelsen, Christian; Talev, Margaret (March 10, 2017). "Bharara, Wall Street's Enforcer, Other Lawyers Asked to Quit". Bloomberg L.P.. https://www.bloomberg.com/politics/articles/2017-03-11/bharara-wall-street-s-enforcer-among-prosecutors-asked-to-quit. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  13. Savage, Charlie; Haberman, Maggie (March 10, 2017). "Trump Abruptly Orders 46 Obama-Era Prosecutors to Resign". The New York Times (The New York Times Company). ISSN 0362-4331. OCLC 1645522. https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/us/politics/us-attorney-justice-department-trump.html. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  14. "AG Sessions asks remaining 46 US attorneys to resign". Fox News. March 10, 2017. http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/03/10/ag-sessions-asks-remaining-46-us-attorneys-to-resign.html. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  15. Horwitz, Sari; Barrett, Devlin (March 10, 2017). "Justice Department tells all remaining Obama administration U.S. attorneys to resign". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. OCLC 2269358. https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/justice-department-tells-all-remaining-obama-administration-us-attorneys-to-resign/2017/03/10/110e3d8c-05ce-11e7-b9fa-ed727b644a0b_story.html. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  16. 16.0 16.1 Wheeler, Lydia (March 10, 2017). "Sessions asks 46 Obama-era US attorneys to resign". The Hill (Washington, D.C.: Capitol Hill Publishing Corp.). ISSN 1521-1568. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/323444-sessions-asks-46-obama-era-us-attorneys-to-resign. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  17. Hensch, Mark (March 10, 2017). "Schumer ‘troubled’ by Sessions's request for US attorneys' resignations". The Hill. http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/323512-schumer-troubled-by-us-attorneys-move. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 
  18. Halper, Daniel; Whitehouse, Kaj; Conley, Kirstan (March 10, 2017). "Jeff Sessions tells 46 US attorneys appointed by Obama to resign". New York Post (News Corp). ISSN 1090-3321. http://nypost.com/2017/03/10/jeff-sessions-tells-46-us-attorneys-to-resign/. Retrieved March 10, 2017. 

External links[edit | edit source]

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