Sessions still hasn't filled any US attorney positions a month after requesting resignations
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Photo by Gage Skidmore via Wikimedia Commons.
U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has quickly made bold moves to reverse some Department of Justice policies and expand others, particularly with illegal immigration, violent crime and drugs.
But at the same time, he has not filled any of the U.S. attorney positions after he asked all who remained to immediately resign. And he hasn’t put many high-level DOJ officials in place, either. That hampers his efforts because assistant U.S. attorneys acting as the U.S. attorney in the interim don’t carry the same authority, the Washington Post reports.
Asked about the vacancies when he met Tuesday with officials from several federal law enforcement agencies, Sessions said, “We really need to work hard at that.” Along with all 93 U.S. attorney positions being open, many of the top DOJ jobs, such as heads of the civil rights, criminal and national security divisions, remain unfilled.
Former high-level DOJ officials said career prosecutors acting as U.S. attorneys have less authority when, for example, dealing with police chiefs and other law enforcement leaders.
“It’s like trying to win a baseball game without your first-string players on the field,” said Ronald Weich, a former assistant attorney general who ran the DOJ’s legislative affairs division in President Barack Obama’s first term and now is dean of the University of Baltimore School of Law. Those interim officials, he said, are “not the same as having appointed and confirmed officials who represent the priorities of the administration.”
Also on Tuesday, Sessions pushed his aggressive approach to illegal immigration and crime, vowing to crush the brutal MS-13 street gang that has spread its tentacles from Central America to U.S. communities, the Associated Press reports.
Sessions said MS-13 is bringing illegal drugs into the United States and “inflicting horrific violence in the communities where they operate.” He vowed to secure the border, expand immigration enforcement and cut off the gang’s supply lines, saying that “if you are a gang member, we will find you.”
The attorney general conceded that it likely will take a significant amount of time to fill the U.S. attorney positions, which could be slowed by the “blue slip” process that gives senators from a nominee’s home state a voice in the matter. It “does take some months and has traditionally,” Sessions said.