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3/10/17

The Friday Night Massacre: 46 U.S. attorneys are asked to resign as Trump and Sessions clean house.- Leon Neyfakh

While it’s true that the Trump administration asked every remaining U.S. attorney in the country who was appointed by Barack Obama to hand in their resignations on Friday, there was nothing particularly unusual or surprising about the move. Strangely enough, this sort of mass-firing of U.S. attorneys—the federal prosecutors who oversee the Justice Department’s 93 field offices—is a Washington tradition, and every new president in recent memory who has taken over for the opposing party has done some version of the same thing.

Obama, for his part, reportedly took a somewhat gentler approach and allowed resignations to trickle in gradually instead of bringing the ax down all at once. (“The way the Obama administration handled it was appropriate and respectful and classy," one former U.S. attorney told the AP, by way of comparison to Trump’s move.) But ultimately the same principle holds for every administration: With new leadership in the Department of Justice come new ideas about how best to enforce federal law, and that means the attorney general brings in prosecutors who see things his or her way.

What might have provoked Friday’s house-cleaning? The New York Times plays it coy in the current version of its story, noting that the move “came less than 24 hours after Sean Hannity, the Fox News commentator who often speaks with Mr. Trump, called for a ‘purge’ of Obama appointees at the Justice Department on his show.” It would not be the first time the president was so influenced by the network, and at this point, there would be nothing surprising about that either.


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