U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon of the Northern District of Illinois is among 46 U.S. Attorneys being asked to resign by Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the Justice Department said Friday.
Sources tell NBC 5 Fardon is expected to resign as early as Monday.
Many of the federal prosecutors who were nominated by President Barack Obama have already left their positions. But the nearly four dozen who stayed on have been asked to leave, “in order to ensure a uniform transition,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.
"Until the new U.S. attorneys are confirmed, the dedicated career prosecutors in our U.S. attorney's offices will continue the great work of the department in investigating, prosecuting and deterring the most violent offenders," she said.
It is customary, though not automatic, for the country's 93 U.S. attorneys to leave their positions once a new president is in office. Former President Bill Clinton fired all 93 in a single day. In 2006, President George W. Bush and his Attorney General Alberto Gonzales faced a firestorm of criticism when seven Clinton holdovers were fired. The ensuing controversy eventually led to the resignations of nine Justice Department officials, including Gonzales himself.
The Obama administration allowed political appointees of President George W. Bush to serve until their replacement had been nominated and confirmed. One U.S. attorney appointed by Bush, Rod Rosenstein of Maryland, remained on the job for the entire Obama administration and is the current nominee for deputy attorney general.
On Wednesday, Sessions called for his local prosecutors to shift their focus to the nation’s most violent offenders. As he addressed reporters Thursday, Fardon said he thought Chicago was already doing a good job in that regard, but welcomed the new emphasis.
“This administration cares and wants us to use every tool and resource we have to focus on addressing these issues and trying to turn this tide in violence,” he said. “And that’s a good thing in my judgment.”
Until a permanent nomination is made, Fardon is expected to be replaced temporarily by First Assistant Joel Levin, a veteran prosecutor who, with Fardon, was part of the team who prosecuted former Gov. George Ryan.