Feb. 10 (UPI) — The Biden administration on Tuesday asked all but two U.S. attorneys appointed to the Justice Department by the former Trump administration to resign, effective Feb. 28.
Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson confirmed in a statement that the Biden administration and the Justice Department have begun the “transition process for the U.S. attorneys.”
“We are committed to ensuring a seamless transition,” he said. “Until U.S. attorney nominees are confirmed, the interim and acting leaders in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will make sure that the department continues to accomplish its critical law enforcement mission, vigorously defend the rule of law and pursue the fair and impartial administration of justice for all.”
Most presidential appointees by the Trump administration had already tendered their resignation, he said, adding that one-third of the country’s 94 district offices were already led by acting and interim leadership.
The swapping of attorneys is generally a routine process, though Jeff Sessions, President Donald Trump‘s first attorney general, ordered 46 U.S. attorneys appointed by the Obama administration to resign effective immediately in 2017.
The U.S. attorneys were asked to tender their resignations in a conference call on Tuesday, but attorneys John Durham, who is reinvestigating the origins of the Russia probe, and David Weiss of Delaware, who is conducting a tax investigation into the president’s son, Hunter Biden, have been told to remain in office, CNN, The Washington Post and NBC News reported citing unnamed Justice Department officials.
Durham was quietly appointed special counsel by then-Attorney General William Bar in the month before the November presidential election to ensure he and his team could continue their probe into the origins of the Russia 2016 election meddling investigation that led to more than 30 people, including those close to Trump, being indicted.
Barr had assigned Durham in May 2019 to investigation whether federal agencies acted within the law to launch operation Crossfire Hurricane, an FBI probe of allegations of ties between Russia and the Trump campaign.
Sens. Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, both Democrats in Illinois, expressed disappointment that they were not consulted before the Biden administration asked for John Lausch, the U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, to resign.
“While the president has the right to remove U.S. attorneys, there is precedent for U.S. attorneys in the Northern District of Illinois to remain in office to conclude sensitive investigations,” the pair said Tuesday in a statement. “We believe Mr. Lausch should be permitted to continue in his position until his successor is confirmed by the Senate, and we urge the Biden administration to allow him to do so.”
Bobby L. Christine, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, whom was appointed by Trump in November 2017, resigned Tuesday to return to private practice.
W. Stephen Muldrow, the U.S. attorney for the District of Puerto Rico, announced Tuesday that he has tendered his resignation as part of the transition of power, and will vacate the position on Feb. 28.