EXCLUSIVE: Atlanta-Based U.S. Attorney Abruptly Departs Office Sooner Than Expected

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The U.S. attorney in Atlanta departed his post Monday, TPM has learned, after previously indicating that he would not leave until Inauguration Day.

The reason for U.S. Attorney Byung “BJay” Pak’s change of plans are not clear. In an internal email announcing his departure obtained by TPM, Pak cited only “unforeseen circumstances” as the reason he was leaving Monday rather than Jan. 20.

A spokesperson for the U.S. attorney’s office confirmed the resignation on Monday evening, hours after this story was originally published, but could not provide any more details. Not long after that conversation, the office posted a formal announcement of Pak’s resignation. It included a statement from Pak in which he spoke warmly of his tenure at the Justice Department, but did not offer any additional information about the circumstances of his departure.

A spokesperson for the DOJ’s headquarters in D.C. declined to comment when TPM reached out about the departure earlier Monday. The White House declined to comment.

Pak was nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate in 2017.

In the announcement posted by the office Monday night, Pak said that serving in the role had been the “greatest honor of my professional career.” He said he was “grateful to President Trump and the United States Senate for the opportunity to serve, and to former Attorneys General Sessions and Barr for their leadership of the Department.”

It is not uncommon for U.S. attorneys to step down in the weeks leading up to the inauguration of a new administration as a courtesy to clear the way for the incoming president to choose his or her own appointees. Other Trump-appointed U.S. attorneys have also left their posts in recent days.

But the news that Pak is out effective Monday, rather than Jan. 20, as he had previously indicated, comes as Georgia is the focus of intense political attention.

President Trump has been on an unrelenting crusade to overturn the election results in Georgia and other battleground states that went for Joe Biden. On Saturday, he asked Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger to “find” votes for him on an hour-long call that was published Sunday by the Washington Post.

Georgia is also the site of an extremely high-stakes Senate run-off Tuesday. Control of the Senate will come down to whether Democrats can nab both Senate seats that are on the ballot.

Before his appointment as U.S. attorney, Pak, a Republican, served as a representative in Georgia’s General Assembly.

This post has been updated.

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