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Only U.S. attorney appointed by Obama and Trump submits resignation

Utah U.S. Attorney John Huber is stepping down after more than six years on the job

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U.S. Attorney for Utah John W. Huber, center, discusses a three-day drug interdiction operation in Tooele County by Utah Highway Patrol troopers during a press conference at the Calvin Rampton Complex in West Valley City on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020. Huber, who served under both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations, announced he will step down at the end of February.

Steve Griffin, Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah U.S. Attorney John Huber, who served under both Democratic and Republican presidential administrations, announced he will step down at the end of February.

In a resignation letter to President Joe Biden, Huber called it an “extraordinary honor” to represent the United States and Utah the past six years. His last day is Feb. 28.

“From the time President Obama appointed me, through President Trump’s administration and up to my final day of service, I have aspired to be a statesman who prioritizes patriotism over partisanship,” he wrote.

Huber is the only U.S. attorney to be appointed by both President Barack Obama and President Donald Trump.

His resignation comes as the Justice Department this week asked U.S. attorneys who were appointed by Trump to resign as the Biden administration moves to transition to its own nominees.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill noted that even though Huber resigned, he could be reappointed again. Gill called Huber “a good friend.” 

Gill, one of two Democratic county attorneys in the state and Salt Lake County’s top cop since 2010, said he hasn’t received any calls about the job. 

“I’m very happy where I’m at, but if such opportunities present themselves, I think anybody who would be asked would have to take a look at that seriously, and how you can best serve your country in your work,” Gill said. 

Margaret Olson, Summit County’s top prosecutor elected in 2018, is Utah’s other Democratic county attorney. 

Acknowledging that the country is in the midst of “considerable discord and strife,” Huber said that position gave him a unique perspective to see that “what binds us together as Americans is so much stronger than the issues that would pull us apart.”

Huber oversaw high-profile prosecutions involving white-collar crime, fraud and drug trafficking. He also directed efforts to crack down on white supremacist gangs and violent crime.

Trump trashed Huber last June, calling him a “garbage disposal unit” for ending an investigation into former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton without filing any charges.

Former Attorney General Jeff Sessions quietly tasked Huber with the investigation in 2018 after two House committees called for a review into whether Department of Justice or FBI employees were biased during their now-closed probe of Clinton’s use of a private email server, and as they began investigating Trump campaign ties to Russian meddling in the 2016 election.

In addition to an investigation into the request for a warrant to surveil Trump campaign aide Carter Page, Huber was looking into whether the DOJ ignored allegations about Clinton’s ties to the sale of U.S. uranium rights to a subsidiary of a Russian nuclear energy company. He was also reportedly investigating Clinton’s use of a personal email server and the dealings of her family’s foundation.

Huber closed the investigation last January.

“Undercover Huber is a great spoof, funny, but at the same time sad, because the real@JohnWHuber did absolutely NOTHING. He was a garbage disposal unit for important documents & then, tap, tap, tap, just drag it along & run out of time. A.G. Jeff Sessions was played like a drum!” Trump tweeted at the time.

Huber served as an adviser to three U.S attorneys general of two political parties who he said led the DOJ with “fidelity and steady hands.”

Shortly after becoming president, Trump abruptly called for top federal prosecutors in 46 jurisdictions, including Utah, to step down. Huber submitted his resignation in March 2017. Trump nominated him to keep the job in June of that year and the Senate confirmed him in August.

Obama first appointed Huber in February 2015, with the backing of now-retired Republican Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch. The Senate confirmed Huber in June and he took the oath of office in August 2015.

The U.S. attorney oversees all federal criminal and civil cases in the state with a staff of 85 in Salt Lake City and a branch office in St. George.

Huber, who earned undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Utah, started working with the U.S. Attorney’s Office in April 2002 as a special assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting gun crimes as part of the office’s Project Safe Neighborhoods. He also worked in the Weber County Attorney’s Office and as the chief prosecutor for West Valley City.

Contributing: Annie Knox