As President Obama fills jobs, he might want to approach the 93 U.S. attorneys’ offices with extra caution, says National Public Radio. The last two presidents have created controversies surrounding their handling of U.S. attorney appointments and dismissals. Now Democrats in the White House and Congress have begun to discuss who will occupy those important positions in the Obama administration. Acording to sources close to the process, administration staffers have solicited recommendations from some members of Congress about who the new U.S. attorneys will be. Those recommendations primarily come from the senior Democratic senator in each state.
In early January, the Justice Department asked all of President Bush’s U.S. attorneys to remain in their posts until further notice. Not all of them chose to stay. There has been a steady exodus over the past several months, as is typical at the end of an administration. By the time Obama was inaugurated, only 54 of the 93 U.S. attorneys were Senate-confirmed appointees. A report last year by the Justice Department’s inspector general found “substantial evidence that partisan political considerations” had played a role in the Bush administration’s decision to fire a group of U.S. attorneys. Those firings sparked a massive scandal. More than a dozen top Justice Department officials eventually resigned, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. Obama appears to be moving cautiously. He has already announced his intention to retain at least one of President Bush’s U.S. attorneys, Patrick Fitzgerald, in Chicago.