It’s a delicate maneuver: the Obama administration didn’t want to sweep away every U.S. attorney around the country at once, and it very much wants to avoid the allegations that plagued George W. Bush and Alberto Gonzalez (check out this Washington Post piece for the broad strokes). So sources tell us that instead of asking Russoniello and Los Angeles top prosecutor Thomas O’Brien to resign, the senators will unleash their vetting committees to find a successor — “should” there be a vacancy.
This word-smithing — which was developed in conjunction with the administration, we’re told — allows Russoniello and O’Brien to continue on while the senators hold their beauty contest for a replacement. Boxer is slated to pick a Northern District nominee, while Feinstein will get the Central. We’re sure the senators will be oh so understanding if they and their people devote hours of work to finding a successor, only to have the administration decide it wants to stick with Russoniello after all.
Russoniello didn’t immediately respond to an email.
— Dan Levine