Mar 14 2017

An Orderly Transition?

It is by now old news that President Trump’s top lawman, Jeff Sessions, ordered most of the country’s U.S. Attorneys to clear out, immediately or sooner, a couple of days ago. This normally calls for the submitting of resignations. The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, did not go peacefully however, and forced Sessions to fire him instead, for reasons that will likely come into focus in the coming weeks. One reason for the highly charged departure, though, is quite public. President Trump had met with Mr. Bharara, and had personally requested that he stay on to work during the Trump Administration’s tenure. Therefore, the change of position apparently took the U.S. Attorney by unpleasant surprise.

Not everyone in Mr. Bharara’s position was treated that way. In fact, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York was told that he could stay on, in order to accumulate enough time for his pension to become effective, and to ensure an orderly transition. That was a generous and reasonable thing to do: generous concerning Mr. Hartunian’s pension; and reasonable because leaders of federal prosectors’ offices need time to effectuate an orderly transition, and insure that investigations in progress continue to move forward under proper guidance.

The manner in which Mr. Sessions carried out his removal of most sitting U.S. Attorneys was abrupt, making the possibility of achieving orderly transitions at each office slim. From here, I can’t imagine why he chose to do it this way. But the end result is that lots of dedicated public servants who worked hard for modest paychecks are leaving their offices in a hurry, and feeling slighted. They deserve better. They deserved to be treated like the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of New York.

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