Attorney General Jeff Session Friday called for the resignations of 46 U.S. Attorneys who are holdovers from the Obama Administration. And Hawaii's top federal prosecutor is one of them.
Florence Nakakuni was appointed in September 2009. She has worked in the Hawaii U.S. Attorney's office since 1985. But she will be replaced in the new Trump Administration. Calls to her office for comment were not returned.
"The U.S. Attorney of each district, in each of our districts, is a political appointee," said former assistant U.S. Attorney Wes Porter. "but once in the job as the head prosecutor in a district, very neutral and detached."
Porter is now the president of Damien Memorial School. He said new administrations appoint new prosecutors, but it's normally a quiet, measured process.
"Here, we're going to have resignations that happen en masse, all at once. So that is unique," he said.
Honolulu attorney William McCorriston is another former assistant U.S. Attorney. He had nothing but praise for Nakakuni's job as the top federal prosecutor in Hawaii.
"So I don't think it has anything to do with the way she operates," said McCorriston. "I think this is just a national decision based upon some upset that the president has."
Different prosecutors often have different priorities. They could emphasize drug cases, for example, or public corruption.
"Right now, we have a federal investigation through our local U.S. Attorney's office of our local police department. So it's a very powerful office. It's a very important office. But it's also a political office," said local attorney Victor Bakke.
Bakke also said that technically, a new appointee could affect the federal conspiracy investigation that has ensnared former Honolulu Police Chief Louis Kealoha and his prosecutor wife, Katherine.
"It absolutely could," he said. "As soon as a new attorney general comes into the District of California, the Southern District of California, or the District of Hawaii, any one of them could just cut it off."