Five weeks ago, Attorney General Jeff Sessions requested the resignations off all remaining U.S. attorneys appointed by former President Barack Obama, and when one of them, Preet Bharara in Manhattan, declined the request, he fired him. Sessions hasn't replaced a single one of them yet, The Washington Post notes, and that's not great news for his tough-on-crime agenda. Sessions told The Post that the 97 acting U.S. attorneys, career Justice Department lawyers, "respond pretty well to presidential leadership," but former DOJ officials say Sessions is just making his job harder.
"It's like trying to win a baseball game without your first-string players on the field," said Ronald Weich, a former Obama assistant attorney general. "There are human beings occupying each of those seats ... but that's not the same as having appointed and confirmed officials who represent the priorities of the administration." These interim federal prosecutors don't have the same clout with top local law enforcement leaders, officials say, even if they act to promote the attorney general's priorities.
Democrats shouldn't complain about this lack of Sessions-chosen U.S. attorneys or other top deputies, Obama Justice Department spokesman Matthew Miller told The Washington Post. "But if you're a supporter of the president, you probably want them to move on those positions." It may take months to fill all 97 U.S. attorney posts, though, especially since the White House usually seeks input from senators in the states where the U.S. attorneys serve. Obama and former President George W. Bush gradually replaced the U.S. attorneys chosen by their predecessors.