Brendan McDermid / Reuters
The Justice Department supplied statements from two former attorneys general saying Sessions’ move is not unprecedented.
“Americans deserve a justice system that has clear lines of authority in accordance with the Executive Branch’s responsibility under the Constitution,” former AG John Ashcroft said in one of the statements. “Attorney General Sessions’ appointment of 17 interim United States Attorneys is an important step to ensure executive leadership in vital national security roles.”
“Congress has vested the Attorney General with this authority and duty. For decades, Attorneys General of multiple Administrations have used this executive authority to address critical vacancies and manage the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices.”
A source familiar with the process said some senators have not signed off on candidates Trump supports, which was contributed to delays in officially nominating them.
The offices being filled include the high-profile Southern District of New York, where
Preet Bharara was fired after refusing to resign. Bharara’s deputy, Joon Kim, was made acting U.S. attorney but will now be replaced by Geoffrey Berman, an attorney in private practice who is Rudolph Giuliani’s law partner.
Berman was a federal prosecutor for four years in the 1990s. His then-boss, Mary Jo White, said he “was a star” as an assistant U.S. attorney in Manhattan.
“I tried to talk him into staying — he was that good — but he went into the private sector. And ever since, he’s had a terrific reputation,” she said.
The other districts where Sessions made interim appointments are the Eastern District and Northern District of New York, Minnesota, New Jersey, Rhode Island, the Eastern District and Western District of Louisiana, the Western District of Missouri, the Central District of California, the Eastern District of Washington, the Middle District of Florida, the District of Hawaii, the Eastern District of Michigan, the Virgin Islands, and Guam.