The United States Attorney in Raleigh, Robert J. Higdon, Jr. has resigned and will leave office on Feb. 28. His move follows President Biden’s request that all presidentially appointed United States Attorneys step down, according to a press release from his office last Thursday.
Higdon has served as the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of North Carolina since late 2017 after being nominated by former President Trump and confirmed by the Senate.
The district has jurisdiction over 44 easternmost counties in the state.
“I am very grateful to former President Trump for the opportunity to serve the people of eastern North Carolina as their chief federal law enforcement officer,” Higdon wrote in his resignation letter. “And I am grateful to United States Senators Richard Burr and Thom Tillis for their support and recommendations that made my service possible.”
All three U.S. Attorneys in North Carolina were appointed by former President Trump. In addition to Higdon, Matthew G.T. Martin has served the Middle District of North Carolina since January 2018, and R. Andrew Murray the Western District of North Carolina since November 2017.
Fifty-six of the 93 U.S. Attorneys nationwide are presidentially appointed, according to the Department of Justice’s website. Others are either in acting roles, or appointed by former Attorney General William Barr or their districts. More than 50 were asked to resign no later than Feb. 28, with a few exceptions, according to an email statement from a senior DOJ official.
U.S. Attorneys represent the federal government and serve four-year terms. They act as prosecutors in criminal cases brought by the federal government and defend the federal government in civil cases.
However, among the exceptions to this shake-up is a federal prosecutor leading a federal tax investigation of President Biden’s son, Hunter Biden. The Biden administration has asked U.S. Attorney in Delaware, David Weiss, to remain in office.
It’s not uncommon for new presidents to shake up U.S. Attorneys when they take office. Led by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the DOJ also sought the resignation of 46 U.S. Attorneys from the Obama era in 2017, the AP reported.
“Pending confirmation of the President’s nominees, the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices will in most cases be led by career First Assistant U.S. Attorneys, who are career officials of the U.S. Department of Justice,” the DOJ official wrote in the email.[Note: This story was updated on Feb. 16 to include a response from the DOJ]