Amidst reports that Trump asked U.S. Attorneys to resign last week, some have wondered about the status of our EDCA U.S. Attorney, Phil Talbert. Phil took over when the Obama-appointed U.S. Attorney, Ben Wagner, resigned before the election. Here's the highly-technical scoop:
Phil became the Acting U.S. Attorney without any appointment on May 1, 2016. But there's a limit to how long one can be an "Acting" U.S. Attorney. So when that time ran out in November, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch appointed Phil to be the EDCA U.S. Attorney.
Federal law also restricts how long a person can hold the position on an AG appointment. Later this month, the district court, at the request of the Department of Justice, is expected to appoint Phil as the U.S. Attorney. There's no time limit on a court-appointed U.S. Attorney, so he'll probably serve as EDCA U.S. Attorney until the President appoints a new one. At that time, if Phil is still in the office, he will revert to once again being an Assistant U.S. Attorney because he'll be a court, not a Presidential, appointee. A Presidentially-appointed U.S. Attorney, whether they were an AUSA beforehand or not, does not become an AUSA when a new Presidential appointee arrives and instead must leave the office.
According to news reports, the U.S. Attorneys who had been appointed by President Obama and still remained in the position were asked to resign (other than the U.S. Attorney from Maryland, who is nominated to be Deputy AG, and the U.S. Attorney from EDVA, who is currently Acting Deputy AG). Presidentially-appointed U.S. Attorneys serve at the pleasure of the President without civil service protection. The rest of the court and AG appointed U.S. Attorneys and the Acting U.S. Attorneys enjoy civil service protection and were left in place.
At least that's how it works under current law, though the law can change.