State Watch

Trump bypasses top career prosecutor to replace US attorney in Atlanta

President Trump has named Bobby Christine, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, as the new acting attorney in Atlanta, bypassing a top career prosecutor to fill the role. 

Christine’s office announced the news Tuesday, writing that he was named acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia on Monday “by written order of the President.”

The news comes after Trump-appointed U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak abruptly resigned from the role, effective immediately, on Monday after holding the position for three years. 

Pak, the first Korean American to become a U.S. attorney, said in a release that he believed he had “done my best to be thoughtful and consistent, and to provide justice for my fellow citizens in a fair, effective and efficient manner.” 

Pak’s resignation and Christine’s assignment were first reported by Talking Points Memo, which quoted an internal memo from Pak saying his departure was due to “unforeseen circumstances,” though he did not provide any additional details. 

In Trump’s appointment of Christine, the president bypassed the prosecutor normally given the acting role following a vacancy, First Assistant U.S. Attorney Kurt Erskine.

According to announcements shared by both the Northern and Southern Districts of Georgia Tuesday, Christine plans on staying in his role in the Southern district, which includes the cities of Savannah and Augusta, while taking on the additional role in the Northern district. 

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment. When contacted by Politico, a White House spokesperson on Tuesday referred questions to the Department of Justice. 

Pak’s resignation Monday came less than a month after the U.S. attorney for the Middle District of Georgia, Charles Peeler, who was also appointed by Trump, announced he would step down, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

While it is not unusual for U.S. attorneys to leave their positions early leading up to a transfer of power, Pak’s departure came the day after The Washington Post released audio of a phone call between Trump and Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. 

The president has drawn scrutiny for the Saturday phone call in which he repeatedly asked Raffensperger to “find” 11,780 votes to make him the winner of the state instead of Biden, who this year was the first Democratic presidential candidate to take the Peach State since 1992. 

Trump has continued to take aim at officials in Georgia, as well as the DOJ and FBI for not moving to promptly look into his disputed claims of rampant voter fraud in the election in Georgia and other pivotal states. 

Before officially leaving his post late last month, then-Attorney General William Barr broke with Trump by saying the Justice Department had not found any evidence of widespread voter fraud that would change the outcome of the election, later adding there was no reason to establish a special counsel to investigate these claims.

Tags 2020 election Atlanta Atlanta Journal-Constitution Augusta Brad Raffensperger DOJ Donald Trump FBI Georgia Joe Biden Politico Savannah Trump Administration voter fraud allegations William Barr
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