It is customary for the country's 93 US attorneys to leave their positions once a new President is in office, but the departures are not automatic. One US attorney appointed by President George W Bush, Rod Rosenstein of Maryland, remained on the job for the entire Obama administration and is the current nominee for deputy attorney general. During the Clinton administration, former Attorney General Janet Reno sought the resignations of the US attorneys appointed by former President George HW Bush in 1993, when Sessions was the US attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.
Tim Purdon, a former US attorney for North Dakota in the Obama administration, recalled that Obama permitted Bush appointees to remain on until their successors had been appointed and confirmed.
"The way the Obama administration handled it was appropriate and respectful and classy," he said, adding, "This saddens me because many of these people are great public servants and now they are being asked to leave."
US attorneys are federal prosecutors who are nominated by the President, generally upon the recommendation of a home-state senator, and are responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the territories they oversee.
They report to Justice Department leadership in Washington, and their priorities are expected to be in line with those of the attorney general.
Sessions took perhaps a veiled swipe at their work in a memo earlier this week, saying that prosecutions for violent crime have been on the decline even as the number of murders has gone up.
The demand for resignations seems a way to ensure that he will have a team of new federal prosecutors more likely to share his agenda.
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.