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Government, Politics & Issues

Obama nominates Judge Callahan as U.S. attorney

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 25, 2009 - Today, President Barack Obama nominated Judge Richard Callahan, a Missouri circuit court judge, to be U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Missouri. 

Callahan's name has circulated for months as the likely selection. Callahan is a longtime ally of U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and was considered her favorite candidate for the position. He has been a Missouri circuit judge since 2002. He was also a former prosecuting attorney of Cole County and a special prosecutor in the Missouri attorney general's office. 

If confirmed by the Senate, Callahan would replace acting U.S. Attorney Michael W. Reap, who has served since Catherine Hanaway -- named by then-President George W. Bush -- stepped down as U.S. attorney last spring.

Traditionally, U.S. attorneys change when the president changes -- and often have political ties. But once in office, the attorneys are generally thought to independent and serve nonpartisan crime-fighter roles. They are part of the U.S. Department of Justice.

The furor over the firings in the Bush administration came because they occured mid-term and because they were thought to be in response to political pressure from the White House. As a rule, U.S. attorneys traditionally aren't removed mid-term except for malfeasance.

Obama says that he will take the approach of most other presidents to the office, and not get involved in the U.S. attorney's actions.

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