U.S. Attorney William McSwain, antagonist to Kenney and Krasner, resigns

U.S. Attorney William McSwain speaks at a press conference.

U.S. Attorney William McSwain speaks at a press conference. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

William McSwain, the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, has officially announced his resignation.

McSwain, who was appointed by President Donald Trump in 2018, was known for echoing the president’s priorities. He attempted to crack down on undocumented immigrants, opposed the city’s plan for a supervised-injection site, and clashed repeatedly with Democratic Mayor Jim Kenney and District Attorney Larry Krasner.

In recent months, McSwain spent more than $75,000 on billboards around Philadelphia, Allentown, and Lancaster advertising his ‘tough on crime’ persona and signaling his larger political ambitions.

“Gun crime = fed time, no parole, every time,” the billboards read.

In a summary of his accomplishments, McSwain included a final dig at Krasner for rising gun crime rates in Philly. The DA has attempted, in many cases, to reduce the use of cash bail and to give lower-level offenders more lenient sentences.

“The deteriorating public safety conditions in Philadelphia necessitated that much of the [U.S. Attorney’s violent crime prosecutions] focused on the City, as a counterweight to the irresponsible criminal justice policies of the District Attorney’s Office that have fueled the violent crime and homicide crises in Philadelphia since early 2018,” McSwain said.

President-elect Joe Biden will soon be eligible to name McSwain’s successor.

McSwain’s final day will be Jan 22. He says he is returning to private law practice in Philadelphia. In the meantime, Jennifer Arbittier Williams, the First Assistant U.S. Attorney under McSwain, will become the Acting U.S. Attorney.

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