The top federal prosecutor in Atlanta was ousted from his role by the White House because he refused to investigate bogus allegations of election fraud pushed by President Trump in Georgia, the Wall Street Journal reported Saturday.
U.S. Attorney of the Northern District of Georgia Byung Jin “BJay” Pak abruptly announced his departure Monday, as TPM first reported this week, after previously telling associates he would step down on January 20.
At the time, he cited “unforeseen circumstances.” The Journal reported Saturday that Pak was, in fact, asked to leave by a Justice Department official, under orders from the White House.
Rather than let the top career official in the office take over from Pak, as is the norm in such situations, Trump then ordered that the U.S. attorney for Georgia’s Southern District, Bobby Christine, step into the acting U.S. attorney role in Atlanta, as TPM first reported.
The White House’s interference in the Atlanta U.S. attorney’s office is the latest example of the great lengths President Trump and his allies have gone to try to overturn the results of the 2020 election, in which Trump was defeated by former Vice President Trump Joe Biden by a solid margin.
The news also comes after a mob of Trump supporters, who had been called to Washington by the President, breached the U.S. Capitol on Wednesday while Congress was certifying Biden’s victory.
It is unclear whether the White House believed that replacing Pak would result in the investigations Trump desired into Georgia’s election results, where Biden defeated Trump by more than 11,000 votes.
Christine, the U.S. attorney installed by Trump to succeed Pak, brought with him to Atlanta two other prosecutors from Georgia’s Southern District, the Washington Post reported on Friday. Both prosecutors, Jason Blanchard and Josh Bearden, served as the”election security” officers in November’s election for Georgia’s Southern District. The unusual move to bring outside prosecutors into the new office raised concerns in legal circles in Georgia that Christine was brought in to spearhead the phony fraud investigations that Pak had resisted launching. There is no public indication yet that such an investigation has been launched.
A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office in Atlanta did not immediately respond to TPM’s inquiry about the new reporting from the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post. TPM also has not received responses to its inquires to to the Justice Department headquarters in D.C. and to the White House about the new reports.
Pak also has not responded to multiple inquiries from TPM about the circumstances of his departure.
Trump has been unrelenting in his obsession on his defeat in Georgia. Last weekend, as reported by the Washington Post, he demanded that Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger “find” votes that would put him over Biden. That call came after a call Trump made in December, as reported by the Post on Saturday, to an official in Raffensperger’s office in charge of investigating fraud allegations.