‘You’re fired’: Experts confirm Trump’s dismissal of 46 U.S. attorneys was totally normal
(Sinclair Broadcasting Group | March 13, 2017) Immediate outrage over any action taken by President Donald Trump has become the new normal, so it wasn’t a surprise to see a wave of criticism follow the administration’s call for the resignations of the remaining 46 U.S. attorneys appointed by Barack Obama.
Within President Trump’s first month in office, 47 of the 93 U.S. attorneys offered their resignation. They were political appointees under Barack Obama and most if not all recognized the fact that after January 20, their days under the new administration were numbered. On Friday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions delivered the message for the remaining attorneys to immediately step down from their posts.
This kind of house-cleaning at the Department of Justice is entirely typical for a new administration, even though different presidents have approached the matter in different ways. On Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer characterized the transition, saying it is “standard operating procedure for a new administration around this time to ask for the resignation of all the U.S. attorneys” …
… Syracuse University law professor and former assistant U.S. attorney William C. Snyder made clear that all United States attorneys are presidential appointees who are typically replaced at the change of administration. “Any surprise at that is feigned.” The way that process is done, however, differs depending on the administration …
… Bill Clinton was a different story. He broke with tradition in an even more dramatic way than President Trump, firing all 93 U.S. attorneys in one day. In March 1993, Clinton’s Attorney General, Janet Reno penned a similar letter to the one Sessions sent out on Friday calling for every attorney to submit his or her resignation.
“I remember it well,” said Snyder, who was serving as an assistant U.S. attorney at the time. “I was with the person who was named Acting U.S. Attorney in the District of Columbia that afternoon, and he was completely shocked and surprised to have been named. He had received no contact from anyone about that, prior to the call from the White House advising that he was named Acting U.S. Attorney.”
The man he was scheduled to replace, U.S. Attorney Jay B. Stephens, challenged the order to resign. The perception at the time was that his dismissal was politically motivated and intended to stop his ongoing investigation of a Clinton ally in Congress for financial crimes. Stephens, like Bharara, was ultimately fired and the scandal received ample press coverage at the time.
“The Clinton action in 1993 was viewed with outrage as a departure from the norm,” Snyder explained …
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