Randy Seiler for Attorney General

Home » U.S. Attorney Randolph Seiler of SD not fired by President Trump

By Stephen Lee stephen.lee@capjournal.com Mar 13, 2017

Randy Seiler

South Dakota’s federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Randolph Seiler assumed duties as acting U.S. attorney in 2015 when Johnson left.

Even though he’s a registered Democrat, South Dakota’s federal prosecutor, U.S. Attorney Randolph Seiler, is not on the list of U.S. attorney’s asked – or ordered – to resign by President Donald Trump’s administration, he announced today.

Trump made news on Friday when his White House contacted 46 U.S. attorneys – about half of the total federal prosecutors – asking them to resign

It was not exactly asking, according to some reports: when a U.S. attorney in New York did not tender his resignation, he said he was fired.

It’s typical for a president to name his own federal prosecutors, although how it’s done, including how quickly, has varied.

In general, presidents appoint federal judges and U.S. attorneys based on party affiliation or recommendation, but not always.

Seiler was in his office in Pierre on Monday. He also uses offices in Sioux Falls and Rapid City, as well as Pine Ridge and Aberdeen, said Seiler, who lives in Fort Pierre.

In fact, until he took over as U.S. attorney in 2015 when U.S. Attorney Brendan Johnson resigned, Seiler was on the Fort Pierre City Council.

On Monday, he issued a news release saying he was not one of the 46 federal prosecutors told to tender their resignations last week by the president and “will remain in his current appointed position until the president nominates and the U.S. Senate confirms his successor.”

Already a longtime prosecutor in the U.S. attorney’s office, Seiler assumed his duties as acting U.S. attorney in early 2015 when Johnson left.

In October 2105, President Barack Obama nominated him to be the 41st U.S. attorney for the District of South Dakota. He was sworn in on Oct. 6, 2015, by U.S. District Judge Roberto Lange in the federal courthouse in Pierre, according to Seiler.

But Seiler’s nomination was not confirmed by the U.S. senate within “the allotted time frame,” which put the ball in the court of U.S. District Chief Judge Jeffrey Viken, who then had the authority to appoint a U.S. attorney. Viken so ordered Seiler as U.S. attorney effective Feb. 5, 2016; by federal law, he remains in the office until the new administration fills it, Seiler said in his news release.

The fact that he’s a career federal prosecutor probably makes a difference.

Seiler has been with the U.S. attorney’s office for more than 20 years and from November 2009 to March 2015, he was the first assistant U.S. attorney and the tribal liaison for South Dakota, he said.

For 14 years, he was an assistant U.S. attorney prosecuting violent crimes in Indian country and other areas of the state.

In 2008 he served as counsel to the director in the executive office for U.S. attorneys in the Justice Department in Washington.

It is likely that South Dakota’s U.S. Sens. John Thune and Mike Rounds, both Republicans, will play a key role in the decision about whether Seiler will be replaced.

Seiler told the Capital Journal he has talked with both senators.

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