The U.S. attorney whose office has been investigating Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) is resigning, the Justice Department announced on Thursday.In a statement, Attorney General Eric Holder praised Neil MacBride, the now-outgoing U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, for working “tirelessly to make a lasting difference for Americans across – and far beyond – his district.”
MacBride informed staffers on Thursday morning of his plan to step down Sept. 13, according to The Washington Post. MacBride’s office oversees over 250 attorneys and support staff in Alexandria, Va., Richmond, Va., Norfolk, Va., and Newport News, Va.
MacBride’s decision comes at a critical time in his office’s probe of Virginia’s chief executive. Earlier this week, attorneys for both Bob McDonnell and his wife, Maureen McDonnell, met separately with federal prosecutors in connection with the ongoing gifts scandal that has rocked the governor’s mansion. According to The Washington Post, prosecutors could decide in a matter of weeks whether and what charges are appropriate in the case.
As the Post points out, MacBride is also leaving his office at a time when it would be responsible for the cases against both the source of National Security Agency leaks Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, should either of them end up back on U.S. soil. Friends of MacBride said that MacBride had delayed his departure because of the high-profile cases his office was handling, but that he ultimately, according to the paper, “decided the cases were in good hands and would proceed. He was ready to try something else — though he has not publicly said if he has a new job.”
A graduate of Houghton College and the University of Virginia School of Law, MacBride was confirmed to his current position in September 2009.