There are practical obstacles to removing and replacing U.S. Attorneys. First, wholesale removal of U.S. Attorneys would cause significant disruption to the work of the Department of Justice. Second, individual U.S. Attorneys often were originally recommended for appointment by a home-state Senator who may be opposed to the President’s determination to remove the U.S. Attorney. Third, a suitable replacement must be found in consultation with the home-state Senator, the difficulty of which would vary from state to state. Fourth, a background investigation must be completed on the replacement — a task often complicated if the outgoing U.S. Attorney stays in office. Fifth, after nomination, the Senate must confirm the replacement.
None of the above obstacles are insuperable. First, a limited number of U.S. Attorneys could be targeted for removal and replacement, mitigating the shock to the system that would result from an across-the-board firing. Second, the Department of Justice’s Executive Office of U.S. Attorneys (EOUSA) could work quietly with targeted U.S. Attorneys to encourage them to leave government service voluntarily; this would allow targeted U.S. Attorneys to make arrangements for work in the private sector and "save face" regarding the reason for leaving office, both in the Department of Justice community and in their local legal communities. Third, after targeted U.S. Attorneys have left office or indicated publicly their intention to leave office, then the Office of the Counsel to the President can work with home-state Senators and/or other political leaders in the state to secure recommendations for a replacement U.S. Attorney. Finally, after background investigations are complete and the replacement candidate is nominated, the Attorney General can appoint the nominee to serve as interim U.S. Attorney pending confirmation, thereby reducing the time during which the leadership of the office is uncertain.
SEC. 502. INTERIM APPOINTMENT OF UNITED STATES ATTORNEYS.
- Section 546 of title 28, United States Code, is amended by striking subsections (c) and (d) and inserting the following new subsection:
- (c) A person appointed as United States attorney under this section may serve until the qualification of a United States Attorney for such district appointed by the President under section 541 of this title.The language that was replaced by PL 109-177 specified that if a US Attorney resigned before the end of his term, that the Court nominated an interim US attorney until the Senate acted on a Presidential nomination.The term for the interim US Attorney was limited by law to 120 days. Now, the President makes the appointment, there is no limit to the interim appointment, and there is required no Senate oversight
He ticked off 11 states that he said could be pivotal in the 2008 elections. Bush has appointed new U.S. attorneys in nine of them since 2005: Florida, Colorado, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Arkansas, Michigan, Nevada and New Mexico. U.S. attorneys in the latter four were among those fired.
Update: A Conservative friend responded to a letter of mine in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution yesterday about this with: "Your faithful libertatian friend, keeper of logic and perspective, wishes to point out that resisting a show trial over nothing and fighting a war are not comparable" which is, I think, the Administration’s current Talking Point. Boy, is he off base this time?! This is certainly not nothing…