Herald-Whig View

There's no scandal in U.S. attorney resignations

Posted: Mar. 17, 2017 11:35 am

THERE was considerable consternation in some circles last week when the Justice Department asked 46 holdover U.S. attorneys to resign.

However, U.S. attorneys serve at the president's pleasure. Many had already left or were making plans for their departures because of the new administration. In fact, current Attorney General Jeff Sessions himself was asked to resign as a U.S. attorney in Alabama in a similar purge by Attorney General Janet Reno in 1993.

It also should be noted that former President Bill Clinton asked for the resignations of 93 U.S. attorneys shortly after he took office, and that former President Barack Obama gradually replaced GOP-nominated U.S. attorneys in 2009.

So there's no scandal here.

What is important is that the continued independence of the Justice Department should be the primary focus of the American public. Prosecutors are expected to pursue cases regardless of the suspects' political affiliations. While U.S. attorneys are often picked for political reasons, justice must be strictly nonpolitical.

Much of the public attention on last week's resignation call has focused on Preet Bharara, the outspoken Manhattan federal prosecutor known for rooting out public corruption who said he was fired despite meeting with then-President-elect Donald Trump in November and saying he was asked to remain.

While changes at all levels of government should have been expected with any new administration, it should be pointed out that thousands of career government employees will continue to handle the nation's business regardless of who occupies the White House.

The permanent government often frustrates presidents and many Americans, but our nation depends on a nonpartisan permanent government to function.

Most important, politics should stop at the door in every federal workplace.