The Trump administration Friday requested the immediate resignation of 46 Obama administration U.S. attorneys, including Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan.
The New York Times reports that the firings came as a surprise, especially for Bharara, who said he was asked about staying on in November by then-President-elect Donald Trump.
Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores told the Times in an email that all remaining holdover U.S. attorneys had been asked to resign, and their deputies, who are career officials, were being left in place in an acting capacity.
“As was the case in prior transitions, many of the United States Attorneys nominated by the previous administration already have left the Department of Justice,” Isgur Flores said in the email. “The Attorney General has now asked the remaining 46 presidentially appointed U.S. Attorneys to tender their resignations in order to ensure a uniform transition.”
According to the Times, the abrupt firing “came after two weeks of increasing calls from Mr. Trump’s allies outside the government to oust appointees from President Barack Obama’s administration.” Trump was reportedly angry about leaks coming from a “sprawling bureaucracy” as well as his own West Wing.
It is not unusual for new administrations to get rid of holdovers from previous administrations. Michael D. McKay, who was the U.S. attorney in Seattle under the George Bush administration, told the Times that even though he had already made plans to leave, he stayed on for about three weeks beyond a request by then-Attorney General Janet Reno for all of the holdover prosecutors to resign.
The Times reports that two prosecutors survived the Trump firings: Dana Boente, the top prosecutor for the Eastern District of Virginia, who is serving as acting deputy attorney general; and Rod Rosenstein, the top prosecutor in Baltimore, whom Trump has nominated to be deputy attorney general.
“The president called Dana Boente and Rod Rosenstein tonight to inform them that he has declined to accept their resignation, and they will remain in their current positions,” Peter Carr, a Justice Department spokesman, said.
Read more at the New York Times.