Charlotte Amalie 𑁋 According to a Justice Department official, the U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday is expected to ask most federal prosecutors appointed by the Trump administration to submit their resignations.
The shake-up is a routine when a new president takes office. The new administration will allow top prosecutors in Delaware and Connecticut to remain in their posts. Delaware U.S. Attorney General David Weiss is overseeing a tax probe of Hunter Biden. John Durham, the special counsel, appointed by former Attorney General William Barr to investigate the origins of federal investigations and links between Trump and Russia, will also continue his work. He will resign from his post as U.S. attorney in Connecticut.
In January, Congresswoman Stacey Plaskett said her office sent a letter asking President Joe Biden to replace US Attorney Gretchen Shappert. Former President Donald Trump appointed Shappert, and she has acted as the territory’s lead federal prosecutor since US Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced her interim appointment on January 4th, 2018.
“The circumstances surrounding the tenure of the current U.S. Attorney for the Virgin Islands, Gretchen Shappert, are untenable,” Plaskett wrote in the letter to the Biden administration. “She refuses to meet with my office even in a courtesy manner, obstructs other federal law enforcement agencies from engaging with local offices if she does not approve of the individuals running those offices — primarily Democrats.”
Plaskett, a former prosecutor and an impeachment manager in Trump’s second impeachment trial made national headlines following the January 6 insurrection on Capitol Hill. In the days following, Plaskett gained over 15,000 Twitter followers and frequently tweeted to her over 66,000 followers about environmental justice, economic disparities in U.S. territories, and equitable access to healthcare and U.S. institutions.
Shappert stayed mostly outside of Washington’s political chaos, much of which consumed the Trump administration for four years. Still, she remained the central figure in weekly reports by local news outlets. Her office conducted sting operations for maritime narcotics transactions and dismantled human trafficking rings in the territory.
Plaskett said that Shappert “has exhibited blatantly discriminatory hiring practices, including firing local employees and hiring non-local, Republican-leaning Assistant US Attorneys. She has bragged to those within the agency that given the Virgin Islands’ lack of Senate elected official, the territory’s distance, and her court appointment — she will not be asked to resign by the new president. That blatant disregard of the president, our inclusion in [the justice system] and the democratic process cannot be left unchecked.” Indeed, Plaskett’s attack on her tenure, leadership style, and her comments about the territory’s access to democratic institutions is the first high profile critique the top federal prosecutor has had in the post.
In the excerpt, Plaskett, now entering her fourth term in the House of Representatives, added that “it is of critical importance to the Virgin Islands community that we intentionally fill this position with a local representative.” Her office said that only excerpts of the letter to Biden could be released publicly as the contents were sensitive.