The United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois, John Lausch, will stay in his role indefinitely, despite having been fired by President Joe Biden last month in a sweep seeking to rid federal prosecutors offices of President Donald Trump’s appointees.
A bipartisan group of state and federal legislators petitioned the White House to allow Lausch to remain in office, at least until he completed three major corruption investigations that have so far snared a number of Illinois’ top Democrats.
“President Biden triggered outcries from Illinois lawmakers on both sides of the aisle after he fired a prosecutor overseeing corruption probes of Democrats in the state. Democrat senators, House GOP lawmakers, and the Illinois Republican Party all condemned the move to fire Chicago-based U.S. Attorney John Lausch,” Fox News reported several weeks ago. “U.S. attorneys are appointed by presidents and typically new presidents ask for the resignations of nearly all at the beginning of a new administration, but Lausch had rare bipartisan support. When then-President Trump appointed Lausch, the attorney had the support of both Illinois’ Democratic senators — Richard Durbin and Tammy Duckworth. ”
Even Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot objected to replacing Lausch, given that he has spearheaded a partnership with Chicago’s police department that has helped reduce the city’s sky-high crime rates.
“To replace him at this time I think puts our city at risk,” Lightfoot said. “We can’t be without a permanent head of this office as we head into the summer months when things are most challenging. That makes no sense.”
Both Durbin and Duckworth weighed in in Lausch’s defense, petitioning President Biden several times to allow Lausch to stay on, at least until his primary focus, an investigation into Illinois electricity provider, Commonwealth Edison — a “sprawling corruption investigation that resulted in Commonwealth Edison admitting to arranging jobs, contracts, and payoffs to associates of former Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan,” per Chicago’s WTTW — is complete.
That investigation has already resulted in six arrests and at least one high-profile resignation — that of Madigan himself, who resigned his position in the Illinois House last week, potentially because he is about to face federal corruption charges. Madigan has long been the center of Illinois’ “Democratic machine,” and, in some ways, dictated the state’s legislative agenda.
Chicago’s former top alderman, Ald. Ed Burke of the city’s 14th Ward is “awaiting trial on a 14-count indictment that alleges he repeatedly — and brazenly — used his powerful position at City Hall to force those doing business with the city to hire his private law firm,” as a result of another of Lausch’s probes.
On Thursday, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that the White House has agreed to allow Lausch to remain on until a suitable replacement can be found.
“John Lausch will remain on the job as the Chicago-based U.S. attorney until his successor is chosen and will not be forced to resign at the end of the month,” the outlet learned Thursday. “A source told the Sun-Times that it is ‘rock solid’ Lausch will stay for the time being, with the sign-off coming from the White House and the Department of Justice.”
Durbin and Duckworth praised the decision in a statement.
“We are pleased the Biden Administration is acting on our request to retain U.S. Attorney Lausch until his successor is confirmed by the Senate. Mr. Lausch has served with professionalism and without partisanship. While the President has the right to remove U.S. Attorneys, there is precedent for U.S. Attorneys in the Northern District of Illinois to remain in office to conclude sensitive investigations. After our repeated calls, we appreciate that Mr. Lausch will be given this opportunity.”
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