Last week, President Trump ordered the remaining US attorneys who were appointed during the Obama Administration to resign from their posts.
This order, announced by the Justice Department, affects forty-six attorneys in total who have remained in their positions since the inauguration. Ninety-three U.S. attorneys were appointed by president Obama in total, and forty-seven have already stepped down.
Contention began this past weekend when Preet Bharara, former US attorney for the Southern District of New York, was fired after refusing to submit his resignation. On Saturday Bharara tweeted, “I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.”
Mr. Bharara, who bears a reputation for cracking down on public officials, had previously been informed by President Trump that he would keep his position in the new administration. During his career as SDNY U.S. Attorney, Bharara has brought charges of corruption against several current and former state legislators, members of the New York City Council, and many local officials. Reportedly, President Trump attempted to contact Bharara Thursday by calling his office, breaking protocols that are meant to monitor contact between the President and U.S. attorneys.
Democrats have expressed their concern and disagreement with President Trump’s decision to dismiss the remaining forty-six U.S. Attorneys. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted on Sunday, “GOP & Dems respect Preet Bharara as a fearless prosecutor who stands up to both parties & Wall Street. I guess that’s why Trump fired him.” Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, has similarly expressed his concern for the repercussions of this order. In a statement, Schumer condemned the action of dismissing U.S. Attorneys as it would undoubtedly stall ongoing investigations and would prevent the “administration of justice.”
Statements from the White House confirm the actions taken by President Trump on Friday and consider the dismissals as a standard part of the transition to a new administration.
Sources: New York Times 3/12; NBC News 3/11; Huffington Post 3/12; The Guardian 3/12/17