(CN) – With no warning or fanfare, the Trump administration on Friday fired 46 federal prosecutors who had served in the Justice Department under President Barack Obama.
“As was the case in prior transitions, many of the United States Attorneys nominated by the previous administration already have left the Department of Justice,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement. “The Attorney General has now asked the remaining 46 presidentially appointed U.S. Attorneys to tender their resignations in order to ensure a uniform transition.”
Because they were asked to tender their resignations, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions may choose not to accept some of them.
Isgur Flores added that the Justice Department’s deputy U.S. Attorneys, who are career DOJ employees and aren’t appointed by the president, would oversee cases until the new U.S. Attorneys are confirmed.
This isn’t the first time a new president has dramatically fired federal prosecutors left over from a previous administration. President Bill Clinton fired all 93 U.S. attorneys on the same day in March 1993.
Current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions was one of those fired by Clinton. He was serving as the U.S. Attorney in Alabama at the time.
But many new presidents choose to gradually phase out holdover prosecutors. Obama kept on Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. Attorney for Maryland appointed by President George W. Bush. And Trump had initially indicated that he would keep Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for Manhattan.
According to media reports, Trump invited Bharara to a meeting at Trump Tower after the election. Bharara told reporters afterward that both Trump and Sessions had asked him to stay on the job.
It remains to be seen how the firings will affect Dana Boente, the acting deputy attorney general and the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia.
Trump appointed him as acting attorney general in January after he fired Sally Yates, an Obama appointee who had instructed the Justice Department not to defend Trump’s executive order banning travel from seven majority-Muslim countries.