WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Chris Coons (D-Del.), a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, sent a letter yesterday afternoon to Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein requesting additional information regarding the resignation of U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, Dana Boente. The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia is reportedly connected to the Manafort and Flynn investigations and also has a record of handling sensitive national security cases, with jurisdiction over the Pentagon, the CIA, and Dulles airport.
The text of the letter is below:
Dear Attorney General Sessions and Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein:
I am writing to request additional information regarding the resignation of U.S. Attorney and Acting Assistant Attorney General for the National Security Division Dana Boente. I was disappointed to learn that Mr. Boente submitted his resignation to the President last week, but since that news, I have become deeply concerned by reports that Mr. Boente wanted to remain in his position but was forced to resign by President Trump.
I recognize that U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President, and it is customary to request the resignations of U.S. Attorneys appointed by previous presidents. However, this reported demand for a single U.S. Attorney’s resignation, the sudden nature of its timing, its proximity to the indictments issued by Special Counsel Mueller, and reported connections between the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia to the investigations of Paul Manafort and Michael Flynn, leave me concerned that this is not business as usual.
Moreover, I have become increasingly troubled during this administration that the President does not comply with the norms that honor the independence of the Department of Justice, which is vital to our democratic system of government. From the prior dismissal of 45 U.S. Attorneys without any successors in place, to President Trump’s interviews with U.S. Attorney candidates in jurisdictions with oversight of his and his family’s businesses, to the President’s attempts to cultivate loyalty relationships with former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara and former FBI Director James Comey – before firing both of them when they refused to accommodate him – I cannot take on faith that this dismissal was normal or justified.
Mr. Boente is a career prosecutor and public servant who has served in the Department of Justice since 1984, when he joined as part of the Attorney General’s Honors Program. When President Obama nominated Mr. Boente to serve as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, the Senate confirmed him by voice vote. The Department of Justice and the White House should provide their reasoning for why someone like this, who was initially asked to continue serving in his important role, was suddenly forced to resign.
Please provide the reason that the President asked for Mr. Boente’s resignation and when that request was made as soon as possible but no later than November 21, 2017.
Christopher A. Coons