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U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who oversaw the prosecutions of Illinois Govs. George Ryan and Rod Blagojevich, announced Wednesday he is stepping down on June 30.Fitzgerald has been the longest serving U.S. attorney in Chicago history, holding the office for more than 10 1/2 years.
The U.S. attorney’s office said Fitzgerald notified the White House, Attorney General Eric Holder and U.S. Sens. Dick Durbin and Mark Kirk of his decision Wednesday morning.
The office gave no reason for Fitzgerald’s decision, but said he has no immediate employment plans and intends to take off this summer before considering his next career move.
“When I was selected for this position in 2001, I said that it was one of the greatest opportunities that one could ever hope for, and I believe that even more now after having the privilege of working alongside hundreds of dedicated prosecutors and agents.”
He was scheduled to address a press conference Thursday morning in Chicago.
Fitzgerald oversaw the public corruption investigations that resulted in the convictions of both Ryan and Blagojevich.
Among other prosecutions during Fitzgerald’s career:
In December 2003, Fitzgerald was served as special counsel in the investigation of the outing of a covert employee of the CIA. The investigation resulted in the indictment of I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, then chief of staff and national security adviser to the vice president.
Fitzgerald was lead counsel in Libby’s trial that resulted in Libby’s conviction on charges of perjury and obstruction of justice.
In 2010, Fitzgerald was appointed special attorney to supervise the investigation of former CIA officer John Kiriakou for allegedly repeatedly disclosing classified information to journalists, including the name of a covert CIA officer and information revealing the role of another CIA employee in classified activities.
At the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan, Fitzgerald participated in the prosecution of those involved in the August 1998 bombings of the United States Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, and the 1993 bombing of the World Trade centre and a plot to bomb other New York landmarks.
Holder said in a statement that Fitzgerald “has served the American people and the citizens of Illinois with the utmost integrity and a steadfast commitment to the cause of justice.”
“Over the years, he has gained the trust of two presidents and the unwavering confidence of four attorneys general, and I am deeply grateful to him for his service and his friendship over the years.”
Durbin praised Fitzgerald for his “aggressive prosecution of wrongdoing – including politicians in both parties.” Durbin adds that Fitzgerald “has given fair warning that no one is above the law.”
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