By Bradford Richardson - 01/16/16 10:24 AM EST
Obama pardon attorney to resign
The Justice Department official responsible for advising President Obama on whom to pardon is resigning.
U.S. Pardon Attorney Deborah Leff told the Justice Department she plans to leave her post at the end of January. Her reasons for leaving are unknown.
“I have known President Obama for more than 20 years, and I believe his commitment to reinvigorating the clemency process — and the promise that holds for justice — can change the lives of a great many deserving people,” Leff said in a statement obtained by USA Today.
“It is essential that this groundbreaking effort move ahead expeditiously and expand,” she added.
The move comes after Obama promised to exercise his pardon power more extensively in the final year of his presidency, largely to commute the prison terms of people serving mandatory minimum sentences under federal drug laws.
He reduced the sentences of 95 federal inmates and pardoned two others last month.
Emily Pierce, spokeswoman for the Justice Department, told USA Today the agency expects to name Leff’s replacement within the next two weeks.
“We expect the work of the Pardon Attorney’s office to continue apace as we identify and vet potential candidates for the president’s clemency priorities,” she said in a statement.
The Office of the Pardon Attorney had 10,073 cases pending at the end of 2015 – more than five times the amount when Obama first took office.
The workload has increased dramatically since the Justice Department began encouraging additional applicants through the president’s clemency initiative.