The Biden administration began requesting the resignations of remaining Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys Tuesday as part of the continuing transition.
The action, however, will not apply to David Weiss, the chief federal prosecutor in Delaware who is overseeing a continuing tax investigation involving President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden.
John Durham, the Connecticut federal prosecutor appointed by former Attorney General William Barr to investigate the origins of the Russia inquiry, also will remain to complete that work.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the decision to leave Weiss and Durham in place was part of an effort to “restore the independence of the Department of Justice and to ensure it remains free of any undue political influence.”
“These were decisions that were made in order to fulfill (Biden’s) promise of maintaining independence and ensuring that he sent that message and every action that was taken,” Psaki said.
During the campaign, Biden repeatedly hammered then-President Donald Trump for using the Justice Department to further his political interests.
The transition is expected to occur over next few weeks, unlike the directive issued by the Trump administration which requested the resignations immediately following the March 2017 dismissal announcement.
At the time, the action prompted a brief stand-off between Trump Justice officials and then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, an Obama administration appointee, who refused to resign, forcing his dismissal. Trump had previously asked Bharara to remain as the chief prosecutor in New York’s Southern District.
The Biden administration is moving forward with the changes even as Merrick Garland, the president’s nominee for attorney general, has yet to be scheduled for a Senate confirmation hearing, along with other top Justice nominees including Lisa Monaco, Biden’s pick for deputy attorney general.
Pending confirmation, the department is being led by acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson and acting Deputy Attorney General John Carlin, both installed by the Biden administration last month.
“We are committed to ensuring a seamless transition,” Wilkinson 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.”
About one-third of the nation’s 93 chief federal prosecutors offices already are being led by interim officials pending nominations by the president.