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January 14, 2021

U.S. Attorney William McSwain, a Trump appointee, announces resignation

'I will miss it dearly,' region's top federal prosecutor says

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McSwain Trump Appointee Joe Lamberti/Courier Post-USA Today Network

William M. McSwain will resign as U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Jan. 22. Above, McSwain heads into a press conference announcing a cocaine bust in 2019.

U.S. Attorney William M. McSwain, the chief federal prosecutor representing the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, announced his resignation Thursday as part of the typical transition between presidential administrations.

McSwain, 51, of West Chester, was nominated by President Donald Trump in 2017 and replaced former U.S. Attorney Zane David Memeger the following year. 

"My overriding focus as U.S. Attorney was on pursuing justice in order to protect the community," McSwain said in a statement. "I gave this job all that I had – all day, every day. While we’ve had many significant accomplishments during my tenure, the credit for these successes belongs to the hardworking, dedicated professionals at the U.S. Attorney’s Office and our law enforcement partners. For an attorney, there is no greater professional privilege than to represent the United States of America. I will miss it dearly."

McSwain often feuded publicly with progressive Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner, whom he blamed last year for a "culture of lawlessness" in the wake of the looting that occurred during justice protests for George Floyd.

During his tenure, McSwain also criticized Philadelphia's status as a sanctuary city and purchased billboard space to highlight his office's tough stance on gun crimes, which soared in the city over the past year. 

In announcing McSwain's resignation, the Eastern District of Pennsylvania listed several high profile cases he prosecuted and credited him with the creation of several new office units, including a regional Health Care Fraud Strike Force, an Affirmative Civil Enforcement Strike Force and a General Crimes unit to improve training and development of junior prosecutors.

McSwain also was instrumental in targeting public corruption in recent years, charging IBEW Local 98 business manager John Dougherty and Philadelphia City Councilman Bobby Henon, as well as former Philadelphia Treasurer Christian Dunbar.

In recent months, McSwain's name has popped up as potential candidate for political office, including the U.S. Senate seat that will become open when Pat Toomey's term ends in 2022.

McSwain officially will step down on Jan. 22. His first assistant, Jennifer Arbittier Williams, will fill in as U.S. Attorney in the interim before President-elect Joe Biden announces a new nominee.

A Harvard Law graduate, McSwain served as an infantry officer and sniper platoon commander in the U.S. Marine Corps. He had previously served as Assistant District Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, and had been in private practice as a partner at Drinker Biddle & Reath before his nomination in 2018.

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