Under the Freedom of Information Act, CREW requests:
- a copy of the letter of resignation submitted by Dana Boente, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, on October 27, 2017; and
- a copy of the letter Mr. Boente sent to the lawyers he oversees in the Eastern District of Virginia concerning his resignation that is referenced in an October 27, 2017 Washington Post article; and
- any communications discussing or reflecting the reasons for Mr. Boente’s resignation;
- all documents related to the opinion issued in and matters raised in United States v. Bartko, 728 F.3d 327 (4th Cir. 2013), and Robert Higdon, Jr.’s administration and supervision of the criminal division at the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of North Carolina;
- copies of documents related to the decision to remove Mr. Higdon as criminal division head in 2013 and his assignment to work at DOJ’s Public Integrity Section; and
- copies of curriculum vitae for Mr. Boente, Mr. Higdon, and John R. Parker, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas.
Just days ago, Mr. Boente announced his resignation as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, effective upon the confirmation of his successor.This resignation has triggered speculation that it could afford President Trump an opportunity to influence Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation, should the President attempt to have Mr. Mueller fired. Reportedly, Mr. Mueller first used a grand jury for his investigation that was impaneled in the Eastern District of Virginia. Equally of interest is Robert Higdon who, despite being removed as head of his office’s criminal division in 2013 following a sharp rebuke for that office’s conduct, was selected in August 2017 by President Trump to be the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina. Mr. Higdon is next in the line of succession after Mr. Boente.
The requested records would shed light on whether Mr. Boente was pressured to resign and the underlying reasons for his resignation and may better explain Mr. Higdon’s appointment. Those reasons could inform the public’s understanding of the extent to which the President may be attempting to influence the outcome of the Special Counsel’s investigation and may be putting in place contingency plans that would make it easier for him to have Mr. Mueller fired. These issues bear directly on the integrity of the Justice Department.