Detroit US Attorney Barbara McQuade asked to resign by AG Sessions, President Trump

Attorney General Jeff Sessions is seeking the resignations of 46 United States attorneys who were appointed during prior presidential administrations, the Justice Department said Friday.

Among those asked to tender their resignation includes Michigan United States Attorney Barbara L. McQuade by Sessions and President Donald Trump.

McQuade is the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Michigan, was appointed by President Barack Obama, and sworn in on January 4, 2010. 

“I have loved serving in this job as much as anyone has ever loved any job,” McQuade said.  “It has been an incredible privilege to work alongside public servants who devote their tremendous talents to improving the quality of life in our community.  I am proud to have served as U.S. Attorney in the Obama Administration.”

Many of the federal prosecutors who were nominated by former President Barack Obama have already left their positions, but the nearly four dozen who stayed on in the first weeks of the Trump administration have been asked to leave "in order to ensure a uniform transition," Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said.

"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," Isgur said in a statement.

During her tenure, McQuade has overseen a number of significant cases, including:

  • The conviction of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick and more than 30 others on public corruption charges.  
  • The conviction and life sentence of an Al-Qaeda operative for attempting to blow up an airliner over Detroit on Christmas Day in 2009 with a bomb concealed in his underwear.  
  • The conviction and 45-year sentence Dr. Farid Fata for lying to patients about having cancer so that he could bill Medicare for expensive chemotherapy treatments.  
  • The conviction and $4.3 billion fine against Volkswagen AG for cheating on emissions tests; the conviction and $1 billion fine against Takata Corp. for fraudulently concealing defective airbags.  
  • Settlements with Pittsfield Township to permit the building of an Islamic School and with the City of Sterling Heights to permit the building of a mosque under religious land use laws. 

It is customary for the country's 93 U.S. attorneys to leave their positions once a new president is in office, but the departures are not automatic. One U.S. attorney appointed by President George W. Bush, Rod Rosenstein of Maryland, remained on the job for the entire Obama administration and is the current nominee for deputy attorney general.

Upon taking office, McQuade restructured the office for the first time in 35 years to focus attorney resources on district priorities.  At that time, McQuade created new units dedicated to violent crime, public corruption, health care fraud and civil rights.  Each unit has seen robust enforcement activity.  McQuade’s vision has been to use the resources of the U.S. Attorney’s Office to improve the quality of life for the people of the Eastern District of Michigan, focusing on enforcement, prevention and community trust.

At the national level, McQuade served as Vice Chair of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee under Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and served as co-chair of the Terrorism and National Security Subcommittee since 2010. 

A Justice Department spokesman, Peter Carr, said that President Donald Trump has asked Rosenstein and Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente to stay on.

During the Clinton administration, former Attorney General Janet Reno sought the resignations of the U.S. attorneys appointed by former President George H. W. Bush in 1993, when Sessions was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Alabama.

Tim Purdon, a former U.S. attorney for North Dakota in the Obama administration, recalled that Obama permitted Bush appointees to remain on until their successors had been appointed and confirmed.

"The way the Obama administration handled it was appropriate and respectful and classy," he said. "This saddens me because many of these people are great public servants and now they are being asked to leave."

U.S. attorneys are federal prosecutors who are nominated by the president, generally upon the recommendation of a home-state senator, and are responsible for prosecuting federal crimes in the territories they oversee. They report to Justice Department leadership in Washington, and their priorities are expected to be in line with those of the attorney general.

It was not immediately clear when each of the prosecutors would resign, or if they all actually will. And the request for resignations doesn't necessarily mean Sessions plans to accept all of them. In November, Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for Manhattan, said that he'd been asked by Trump to stay on and that he intended to.

Before becoming U.S. Attorney, McQuade was an Assistant U.S. Attorney in Detroit for 12 years, serving as Deputy Chief of the National Security Unit.  She prosecuted cases involving terrorism financing, foreign agents, export violations and threats, and served as the district’s Crisis Management Coordinator.

McQuade practiced law at the firm of Butzel Long in Detroit from 1993 to 1998, and served as a law clerk to Hon. Bernard A. Friedman on the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan from 1991 to 1993.  From 2003 to 2009, McQuade served as an adjunct professor at the University of Detroit Mercy School of Law, teaching criminal law in the evenings. 

Born in Detroit, McQuade is a 1987 graduate of the University of Michigan and a 1991 graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.  She and her husband have four children.  

The Eastern District of Michigan covers 34 counties and six million residents.  The United States Attorney’s Office, with staffed offices in Detroit, Flint and Bay City, has 115 attorneys and another 100 support professionals, and conducts all criminal and civil litigation in the district involving the United States government. 

-The Associated Press contributed to this report.