Sessions appoints 17 interim U.S. attorneys as time limits for those in acting posts winds down


With a deadline approaching, Attorney General Jeff Sessions appointed interim U.S. attorneys in 17 federal districts, NBC News reported Wednesday.

The interim spots replace acting U.S. attorney positions, which were created after the Trump administration ordered U.S. attorneys held over from the Obama administration for their immediate resignations in March. Those in acting positions are limited by law to 300 days.

Seven of the interim chief prosecutors were already acting U.S. attorneys, while 10 others are new appointments.

The appointments trigger a 120-day period, after which President Donald Trump must make permanent appointments for U.S. attorney in those districts. If he does not, the federal court for each district will make a temporary appointment, NBC says.

An anonymous source told NBC that in at least some cases, the interim appointments were necessary because some senators have not yet approved the Trump administration’s nominee for U.S. Attorney in their states. For example, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand and Sen. Charles Schumer—both Democrats from New York—have not approved the administration’s choice of Geoffrey Berman, a former law partner to Rudolph Giuliani at Greenberg Traurig, to lead the Southern District of New York. Berman, a former assistant U.S. attorney, will take over on an interim basis in that district.

Another interim U.S. attorney, according to the Los Angeles Times, is Nicola Hanna, who will lead the Central District of California. Hanna was a white-collar criminal defense partner at Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher’s Irvine office, and had in the past worked as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Central District. Anonymous sources told the Times that Hanna was being considered to lead the office permanently.

A third interim choice, according to the, is Craig Carpenito for the District of New Jersey. Carpenito, of Alson & Bird’s New York office, represented Chris Christie in connection with allegations that the former governor misused his authority by closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge for political purposes. Carpenito replaces William Fitzpatrick.

The 17 affected districts are the districts of Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, Hawaii, Minnesota, Nevada, New Jersey, Rhode Island and the Virgin Islands, as well as the Central District of California, the Middle District of Florida, the Eastern and Western Districts of Louisiana, the Eastern District of Michigan, the Western District of Missouri, the Eastern, Northern and Southern Districts of New York and the Eastern District of Washington.

NBC says the Justice Department put out a statement quoting two former attorneys general saying that the appointments had precedent. The network quoted John Ashcroft saying people in his former role had been using executive authority to make such appointments for decades.

“Americans deserve a justice system that has clear lines of authority in accordance with the Executive Branch’s responsibility under the Constitution,” said Ashcroft, who served from 2001-05 under George W. Bush.

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