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Oklahoma's U.S. Attorneys Resign As President Biden Moves To Reshape Department of Justice

Trent Shores, the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Oklahoma

Oklahoma’s U.S. Attorneys are resigning at the request of President Joe Biden’s administration.

U.S. Attorneys Timothy Downing of the Western District, Trent Shores of the Northern District and Brian Kuester of the Eastern District will step down February 28. All three men were appointed under former President Donald Trump’s administration.

U.S. Attorneys across the country are leaving their posts as the Biden administration moves to reshape the Department of Justice. All except two in Connecticut and Delaware were asked to submit their letters of resignations on Tuesday.

It is common for incoming presidents to ask top federal prosecutors to resign so their positions can be filled with replacements nominated by the new administration.

Last summer, after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that Muscogee (Creek) Nation's reservation was never disestablished, both Shores of the Northern District and Kuester of the Eastern district had to ramp up their operations to prosecute cases involving tribal citizens.

Shores soon began prosecuting several violent crimes that the ruling transferred into tribal and federal jurisdiction. A citizen of the Choctaw Nation, Shores is the only Indigenous U.S. Attorney in the country. After the watershed ruling, he promised that he and his office would "work until we drop" to make sure cases were taken and didn't fall through the cracks.

All three U.S. Attorneys worked with tribal advocates and federal officials last summer to bring millions of dollars to Oklahoma to combat domestic and sexual violence in a federal and tribal partnership.

“It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve our great nation and the citizens of northeastern Oklahoma in this capacity," wrote Shores in a statement released by the Department of Justice. "It is beyond rewarding to know that I’ve had the opportunity to contribute to the betterment and well-being of our community –the very same community in which I grew up as a child and where my wife and I have chosen to raise our family."

"“I wish everyone had an opportunity to witness as I did their fellow heroic Oklahomans who serve in law enforcement and protect our families and neighborhoods every single day,” said Downing in his letter. “Law enforcement partnerships are stronger today than ever before, and we have seen the positive impact it has had on public safety in our communities and district.”"

All three of Oklahoma's U.S. Attorneys will remain in office until February 28th, as the Biden Administration starts the process of appointing dozens of U.S. Attorneys. Senate confirmations will follow.

“We are committed to ensuring a seamless transition. Until U.S. Attorney nominees are confirmed, the interim and acting leaders in the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will make sure that the department continues to accomplish its critical law enforcement mission, vigorously defend the rule of law and pursue the fair and impartial administration of justice for all,” said Acting Attorney General Wilkinson.


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Allison Herrera is a radio and print journalist who's worked for PRX's The World, Colorado Public Radio as the climate and environment editor and as a freelance reporter for High Country News’ Indigenous Affairs desk.
Quinton Chandler worked at StateImpact Oklahoma from January 2018 to August 2021, focusing on criminal justice reporting.
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