Outgoing U.S. Attorney McQuade surprised by timing of resignation request, leaves without regrets

Mar 14, 2017
Originally published on March 13, 2017 10:44 pm

Forty-six U.S. Attorneys appointed by President Obama are packing up and cleaning out their desks today. This comes after Friday’s abrupt demand for their resignations from Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Among those asked to resign was Barbara McQuade of Detroit. 

She was appointed by Obama in January 2010 and is the first woman to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District here in Michigan.

“I certainly expected that I would be leaving at some point in the coming months, but in January we’d been asked to hold over to ensure an orderly transition,” McQuade said. “So I was a little surprised it was so abrupt and so sudden.”

It’s customary for recently-elected presidents to appoint new U.S. Attorneys, McQuade said, and different presidents handle that transition in different ways.

“It was done this way in the Clinton Administration and, I think, roundly criticized,” she said. “In the last two administrations, people were permitted to leave as their successors were identified, and that seems like a more orderly way to do things. But, you know, certainly the president is permitted to have in these offices whoever he wants or doesn’t want. And so, it’s his prerogative.”

Still, McQuade said she would have appreciated more notice.

“We certainly have been transitioning over the past several months, since the election,” she said. “So we’re actually pretty well prepared to do it, but, you know, it’s not the kind of job that you can leave on a moment’s notice. So I’m at the office today trying to help others be prepared to do their jobs, to hand off things in an orderly fashion. I imagine I’ll need to continue to do that for at least the next several days.”

She said she’ll stick around for “as long as it takes.”

McQuade also said she leaves her position as U.S. Attorney proud of the work she's done.

“I really feel like I have no regrets. I have poured every ounce of energy and every part of my soul into this job, and I am proud of the work that we’ve done here together,” she said.

She said her team's accomplishments for civil rights rank among her proudest accomplishments.

For instance:

“We’ve had two cases resolved fairly recently – one permitting the building of an Islamic school in Pittsfield Township and another permitting the building of a mosque in Sterling Heights,” she said. “After both of those institutions were denied permission to build in those communities, we filed lawsuits under the Religious Land Use statutes and were able to obtain a settlement to get them to reverse those decisions. So I’m very proud of that work so that those institutions can be built in those communities.”

Along those lines, McQuade left a suggestion for her successor: “Continue to engage with our communities.”

“That’s so critically important, I think, to make sure you’re out there listening and understanding the needs of the community from all components of the community.”

She also hopes her successor will build on her team’s efforts to address violent crime, including the partnerships she and her team have established with law enforcement agencies in communities like Detroit, Flint, Pontiac and Saginaw.

Until the position is filled by the President, Daniel Lemisch will serve as acting U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District in Michigan.

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