Jeff Sessions is seeking the resignations of 46 US attorneys who were appointed during prior presidential administrations, the Justice Department said Friday. Many of the federal prosecutors who were nominated by Barack Obama have already left their positions, but the nearly four dozen who stayed on in the first weeks of the Trump administration have been asked to leave "in order to ensure a uniform transition," a Justice Department spokesperson said. It's 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, the AP reports. One US attorney appointed by George W. Bush remained on the job for the entire Obama administration and is the current nominee for deputy attorney general.
Tim Purdon, a former US attorney 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. "These people are great public servants and now they are being asked to leave." Sessions took perhaps a veiled swipe at the work of US attorneys 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 he will have a team of new federal prosecutors more likely to share his agenda. (Read more US attorney stories.)