Of the several recent reports on U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions is his ‘purging,’ as many call it, of the Justice Department. On Friday, Sessions asked 46 Obama-chosen attorneys to resign, what some say is action necessary to ensure a uniform transition.
Almost two months into the Trump Presidency, these 46 attorneys were not the first to feel a pressure to leave. Earlier, 47 attorneys stepped down. Those feeling the heat now are what some of the Right call “Obama Holdovers,” with many claiming they are plotting against the Trump Administration. The degree to which this is true or false is for another commentary, but the concept of an incoming office refilling the Justice Department with its own picks is nothing new.
A Presidential Tradition?
Taking this kind of political action is not uncommon for an incoming administration. To list some names, George Bush and Barack Obama did the same thing. Historically, it is seen as a way to advance one’s political agenda by clearing the Federal Government’s slate.
So Why the Controversy?
It is important to note that each time a new administration ‘purges’ the ‘leftovers’ from the old one, there is a lot of media coverage. However, it is arguable that there is more controversy with the Trump Administration performing this deed because of the fact that the decision: (1) is Trump and Sessions related, (2) is occurring weeks into the new presidency.
1. Trump and Sessions related
Because the election of Donald Trump was so divisive for the nation, his administration is often critically assessed for everything it does. While this was the case for all preceding president administrations, Trump and his team get more news coverage than any other administration. As a result, every action done by his office has a multitude of voiced political commentary: from praising its decisions to expressing harsh judgements. This generates more controversy.
Furthermore, Sessions, someone seen negatively by many, was involved. Simply because it was him who requested the resigning of the 46 attorneys, his insistence will be contested.
2. Bad Timing
Usually when incoming presidents reform the Justice Department, they do it at the very beginning of their term. Contrarily, Sessions waited a few weeks before doing such. Consequently, this came as a greater shock to the nation. As an example, Bush ‘purged’ several of the prior administration’s attorneys years into his presidency, which resulted in a lot of media coverage.
Jeff Sessions’ request has generated great controversy. The best thing to do is to keep an open mind. While there will be disagreement on the next wave of attorney picks, the ‘purge’ of attorneys is not something the Trump Administration invented, rather a presidential common practice.