The Justice Department is expected to ask dozens of U.S. attorneys to resign, but the move is being described as one that will not disrupt the work of two top prosecutors conducting significant investigations overshadowing the Biden administration.
A senior DOJ official told the Washington Examiner that the transitional process for Senate-confirmed U.S. attorneys appointed by former President Donald Trump as early as Tuesday. CNN reported the request is expected to apply to 56 officials. Unclear is when the resignations would be expected to take effect or whether the Biden administration would choose to keep any of the prosecutors on after their resignations are submitted.
President Biden has been in office for roughly two and a half weeks. There are 94 U.S. attorneys across the country, but 25 are currently acting top federal prosecutors in their districts, in part because some federal prosecutors already resigned with the onset of the Biden administration.
Such a transition is not without precedent during the entry of a new administration. Jeff Sessions, Trump’s first attorney general, asked dozens of Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys to resign en masse in March 2017, prompting criticism by Democrats.
The DOJ official told the Washington Examiner on Monday that U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is conducting a criminal investigation into the Russia inquiry, is expected to resign. However, he was appointed special counsel in the final months of the Trump administration and will continue his work in that role even after leaving his post as the top federal prosecutor in Connecticut, the Justice Department official said.
In addition, the DOJ official said acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson called Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who is conducting the criminal tax inquiry into Hunter Biden, the 51-year-old son of the president, and asked him to remain in office while the investigation is playing out. The younger Biden has reportedly been under criminal investigation as far back as 2018, with his foreign business dealings in China and elsewhere being scrutinized.
Biden’s nominee for attorney general, Judge Merrick Garland, is still awaiting the Senate confirmation process. Bidensigned an executive order which requires all of his political appointees to sign a pledge to not interfere in investigative or prosecutorial decisions of the Justice Department.
The fate of high-profile acting U.S. attorneys, such as Audrey Strauss of the Southern District of New York, or Michael Sherwin, the top prosecutor in the nation’s capital who is leading the investigation into the U.S. Capitol riot, is not immediately clear. Both prosecutors, brought in during the Trump administration, are not Senate confirmed, so it is not yet known if they will be asked to hand in their resignations.
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