The Justice Department announced Friday that Attorney General Jeff Sessions has asked all 46 remaining Obama administration U.S. attorneys to resign.
Among those losing his position is Thomas E. Delahanty II, who has been U.S. attorney for Maine since August 2010 after being nominated by President Obama and confirmed by the Senate.
Delahanty is a Lewiston native and longtime Democrat who held the position previously, for just over a year in 1980 and 1981.
Delahanty, 71, lives in Falmouth.
A former longtime Maine Superior Court judge, he thanked Obama at the time of his appointment, calling the position “the pinnacle of a prosecutor’s career.” In the late 1970s, Delahanty served as district attorney for Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties.
Asked to comment Friday night on Sessions’ request, Delahanty said in an email to the Portland Press Herald: “I am out of state on vacation with my family. I intend to enjoy it.”
In a statement earlier Friday, Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said that “as was the case in prior transitions, many of the United States attorneys nominated by the previous administration already have left the Department of Justice. 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. ”
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.
Sessions’ action comes a few days after the attorney general sent a memo to all his prosecutors telling them to use every tool they have to combat violent crime, one of his top priorities.
Flores noted that action is not unusual. The Clinton administration, for instance, had taken a similar step at the start of its presidency. Sessions himself was asked to resign as the U.S. attorney in Alabama in March, 1993 by Clinton’s Attorney General Janet Reno.
Portland Press Herald Staff Writer Bob Keyes contributed to this report.