The Biden Justice Department has begun its process of replacing U.S. attorneys appointed by former President Donald Trump, according to a Justice Department statement on Tuesday.
“Continuing the practice of new administrations, President Biden and the Department of Justice have begun the transition process for the U.S. Attorneys,” a statement said. Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson said in the statement:
We are committed to ensuring a seamless transition. 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.
The DOJ said nearly all presidential appointees from the Trump administration offered their resignations this year, although they and U.S. Marshals were asked to temporarily remain in place. Approximately one-third of the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices are already led by acting or interim leadership.
At least one U.S. attorney will be allowed to stay, according to CNN: Delaware U.S. Attorney David Weiss, who is overseeing the ongoing financial probe into Biden’s son Hunter Biden.
U.S. Attorney John Durham, who is a special counsel investigating the origins of the Obama-era investigation into the 2016 Trump campaign, is expected to resign as U.S. attorney in Connecticut but continue his special counsel investigation, according to CNN.
White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki did not answer a question during a White House briefing on Tuesday as to whether Biden had spoken to Acting Attorney General Monty Wilkinson about the decision to allow Weiss and Durham to remain, but she said, “These were decisions that were made in order to fulfill his promise of maintaining independence.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), former Judiciary Committee Chairman, had previously urged Wilkinson “not to interfere in or call off” current investigations.
The investigation into Hunter Biden’s financial affairs became public in December after a series of reports by the New York Post disclosed that investigators had taken hold of several laptops dropped off at a computer repair shop that belonged to him, which contained emails discussing business dealings.
Hunter Biden says the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Delaware advised his legal counsel yesterday that they are investigating his tax affairs. pic.twitter.com/rYDWCpWgka
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) December 9, 2020
“I take this matter very seriously, but I am confident that a professional and objective review of these matters will demonstrate that I handled my affairs legally and appropriately, including with the benefit of professional tax advisers,” the younger Biden said in a statement in December.
There are currently 56 Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys remaining out of the 93 U.S. attorney slots, which are filled by acting officials. According to The Hill, Biden’s request to replace U.S. attorneys is more abrupt than past White Houses. It reported:
Former Presidents Obama and George W. Bush asked U.S. attorneys to resign over a broader period of time. Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions also asked 46 Obama appointees to resign immediately but did not do so until March 2017.
CNN also reported that Biden could keep acting D.C. U.S. Attorney Michael Sherwin, who is overseeing a sprawling federal probe of the January 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol building.
“President [Joe] Biden will make announcements regarding his nominations to the Senate of new U.S. Attorneys as that information becomes available,” the DOJ statement said.