Following the abrupt Monday resignation of Byung Jin “BJay” Pak, the U.S. attorney in Atlanta, President Trump is bypassing his first assistant, a career prosecutor, to name a new acting leader from outside the office.
The announcement came early Tuesday morning in an internal email obtained by TPM.
The new acting U.S. attorney in Atlanta will be Bobby Christine, the Trump-appointed U.S. attorney for the Southern District of Georgia, according to the email. Christine will continue simultaneously in both roles, according to the email.
The email announcing the changes came from Kurt Erskine, the first assistant U.S. attorney. By putting Christine in the role, the Trump administration passed over Erskine, a longtime DOJ prosecutor.
A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office in the Northern District of Georgia, which includes Atlanta, did not immediately respond to an email and phone message seeking comment.
Sometime Tuesday morning, Christine’s biography page on the Southern District’s website was updated to note his new position also leading the Atlanta office.
“On January 4, 2021, by written order of the President, Bobby was named Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia,” the biography page said.
Even though it’s not uncommon for U.S. attorneys to resign from the role in the weeks before a new administration comes in, Pak’s sudden departure attracted additional attention. Pak, as TPM exclusively reported, had previously indicated that he would not step down until Jan. 20.
His resignation came as Georgia has been the site of extreme political chaos. President Trump has been trying desperately to overturn Joe Biden’s victory in the state, and some believe the President was referring to Pak when he groused about a “Never Trumper” attorney in a call with the state’s top election official on Saturday.
The Georgia Senate run-offs being held Tuesday will decide which party controls the Senate.
Before being confirmed as U.S. attorney in 2017, Christine had extensive experience as a prosecutor in the Augusta District Attorney’s Office and also served as a magistrate judge.
Erskine, in the email announcing Christine’s new roll, encouraged its recipients to join him “in welcoming Bobby to the office.”