WASHINGTON — The Trump administration moved on Friday to sweep away most of the remaining vestiges of Obama administration prosecutors at the Justice Department, ordering 46 holdover United States attorneys to tender their resignations immediately ...
WASHINGTON--All 46 U.S. attorneys serving as holdover appointments from the Obama administration were asked to resign by Attorney General Jeff Sessions Friday afternoon, Justice Department officials said.
Among them was Paul Fishman, the U.S. attorney for New Jersey.
Fishman said the president requested his resignation, effective at midnight.
"It has been the greatest professional experience that I can possibly imagine to have served in this office for the past seven-and-a-half years. Having spent so much of my career working to protect the interests of the people of New Jersey, I can think of no greater form of public service," he said in a statement, calling the men and women who work in his office "the most extraordinary group of public servants I have ever known."
It is not unusual for an incoming administration to seek the resignations of U.S. attorneys, although typically not on such short notice.
A Justice Department spokeswoman said as has been the case in prior transitions, many of the U.S. attorneys nominated by the previous administration already have left.
"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," said spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores in a statement.
Nationwide, 47 others have already stepped aside.
Flores said that until new U.S. attorneys are confirmed, the career prosecutors in the nation's 94 U.S. attorneys' offices will oversee cases. In New Jersey, the First Assistant under Fishman is currently William Fitzpatrick, who presumably would step in to become acting U.S. Attorney.
The prosecutor driving Bridgegate
Fishman began his career as an assistant U.S. attorney, serving 11 years as a federal prosecutor before becoming a senior Justice Department adviser to then-U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno.
He left for private practice, working as a prominent defense attorney for a decade, before he was nominated by President Obama as the state's top law enforcement official in 2009, replacing Chris Christie, who had resigned as U.S. attorney to run for governor of New Jersey.
As U.S. Attorney, some of Fishman's most high-profile cases involved public corruption. The U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey overseesÂ aboutÂ 145 attorneys in Newark, Camden and Trenton offices.
FishmanÂ led an office that prosecuted the BridgegateÂ case involving lane closures at the George Washington Bridge, which led to convictions against Gov. Christie's former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly and ex-Port Authority deputy executive director, Bill Baroni.Â
In another corruption case led by Fishman's team, former Port Authority Chairman David Samson was sentenced MondayÂ to a year of home confinement, four years on probation and 3,600 hours of community service, in a scheme to shakedown United Airlines for a flight route from Newark closer to his South Carolina vacation home.
Under Fishman's tenure, federal officials reached an agreementÂ to carry out reforms in the Newark police force after a Justice Department probe uncovered widespread civil rights abuses by officers.
Just who might be the next U.S. attorney in N.J. has been a guessing game since Trump took office.
The position of U.S. attorney is a political appointment made by the president. Traditionally, U.S. senators from the state where the appointment will be filled recommend names to the president. However, both New Jersey senators, Robert Menendez and Cory Booker, are Democrats.
Christie, as a Republican, would be expected to have a strong say in the appointment, although the governor's influence with the Trump White House has been the subject of some conjecture, despite his strong support during the election, after apparently being passed over for several key cabinet positions.
A spokesman for the governor had no immediate comment.
NJ Advance Media staff writer Noah Cohen contributed to this report.
Ted Sherman may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @TedShermanSL. Facebook: @TedSherman.reporter. Find NJ.com on Facebook.
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