The appointment of U.S. attorneys has become a test of competing priorities for President Obama, reports the Washington Post. When President Bill Clinton took office, he fired all U.S. attorneys at once, provoking intense criticism. President George W. Bush took a different approach, slowly releasing several of the prosecutors but keeping in place others. Obama has not made clear how he will build his own corps of prosecutors.
The nearly 100 U.S. attorneys serve to shape an administration’s approach to law enforcement and are critical to its smooth operation. U.S. attorneys’ offices handled more than 100,000 criminal cases and recovered $1.3 billion in forfeited cash and property in the past fiscal year, according to a prosecutors’ trade group. The White House is under pressure from several fronts, both to appoint new prosecutors favored by members of Congress and, in other cases, to keep some U.S. attorneys from the Bush administration.