WASHINGTON (CNN) - In the midst of a corruption investigation concerning Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, the incoming Obama administration is being urged to keep veteran U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald on the job.
Those doing the urging include Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, who sits on the Judiciary Committee. Fitzgerald's office is heading the politically sensitive probe which is likely to continue for months.
"The U.S. Attorney for Chicago has a deserved reputation of being totally non-political and totally on the merits and a tough and strong prosecutor, and I think leaving it in his hands is exactly the right way to go. And I think all... that President-elect Obama and his incoming administration have to say is
just that - we are going to leave it in Fitzgerald's hands because we have faith in him," Schumer told reporters Wednesday after he met with Attorney General Nominee Eric Holder.
U.S. attorneys are political appointees and serve at the pleasure of the president.
Schumer said he knew of "no intention to remove Patrick Fitzgerald" from his job but has not been told he will be retained by any Obama transition official. "I don't think there is any thought whatsoever of changing the U.S. Attorney in Chicago with these very, very troubling and important times," he said.
While the veteran New York Senator did say he thought the new White House should ask for all current U.S. Attorneys to resign - the common practice when a new president takes office - he said Fitzgerald should be told to stay on. Fitzgerald, who has said he is a political independent, has drawn bipartisan praise for leading fair and thorough probes and for not succumbing to partisan influences. His office has overseen investigations of both Democrats and Republicans, and he was appointed special counsel to investigate the leaking of the identity of CIA operative Valerie Plame's name to the media.
That inquiry led to the indictment and conviction of then Vice Presidential Chief of Staff "Scooter" Libby.
The Bush administration found itself in the middle of a political firestorm after its decision in 2005 to fire nine U.S. attorneys without giving them exact reasons, leading critics to charge the actions were politically