Letters for 03-30-2017
Replacing prosecutors common occurrence
Recently, the Trump administration
took the supposedly unprecedented move
to ask 48 United States attorneys to resign.
One of the prosecutors had been asked
in November to remain and he said he
would. When he was on the list to resign,
the press exploded with comments about
how the current administration was acting
unfairly and exploited the terminations to
make it appear that federal prosecutors
being dismissed is an unprecedented act.
Nothing is further from the truth.
The Regan administration has been
credited as the beginning of mass firings
of U.S. attorneys. President Reagan
replaced 89 of 93 chief prosecutors in districts
across the country during his first
two years in the Oval Office. This was a
large turnover and it was done over a quite
long time span.
When President Clinton took office, he
had all of George Bush’s prosecutors fired
almost immediately after taking office.
Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales had
the honor to perform the terminations.
Then it was tit-for-tat as the younger
Bush became president. He also fired most
of the U.S. attorneys, but it was more staggered
and only after the prosecutors had
been polled as to when the best time would
be to replace them. Of course, the political
card was thrown into the mix as the Democrats
called the Bush/Republican inspired
firings politically motivated.
President Obama continued the postelection purge of prosecutors. By that time,
it was all but expected when a new president
took office. Generally, the attorney
general will request letters of resignation
in a respectful manner towards the end of
the term of the prosecutor and not declare
that the prosecutor was “fired.”
Newly elected President Trump has
followed the rule and requested that a
number of U.S. attorneys resign. This happened
with a couple of exceptions to how
it happened in the past. First, the Trump
administration has so far only asked for
the resignation of 48 prosecutors, not all 93.
The terminations happened immediately
with little thought to case load. Secondly,
one of the prosecutors refused to resign
and has truly been fired. It has been alleged
the fired prosecutor was asked in November
to remain in his position but was later
asked to resign. Of course this made head
line news and the “mass firings” were
thrown out to an unknowledgeable American
population.While the practice of prosecutorial
house cleaning is credited to begun with
Reagan, the terminations have taken place
over a much longer time span, and Louisiana
was not immune.
In 1939, the Louisiana Scandals were
taking place. Gov. Richard Leche and 200
other Louisiana citizens, including the
LSU President James Monroe Smith were
indicted. Two committed suicide, and
Smith was extradited from Canada following
his flight across the border. Despite
every trial resulting from the investigation
handled by the U.S. attorney ending in a
conviction, he was not reappointed to a
second four-year term.
Instead of sensationalizing the replacement
of prosecutors, wouldn’t it be better
to get along with the business of running
the country? Let’s get all the new cabinet in
place so the government can a run little bit
smoother. Let’s get laws enacted that allow
the country to run a little more efficient
and let’s quit dwelling on individual tax
returns and what the First Lady is wearing
that was first popularized by Jackie Kennedy,
or analyzing a president’s daughter’s
line of clothing at Macy’s Department
Running a country is serious business,
so let’s get serious about it and let’s all pull
together to get it done.
Tuffy Fields may be reached bye mailing