But ultimately, the friends said, MacBride decided that the cases were in good hands. He was ready to try something else — although he does not have another job lined up.
“You got WikiLeaks, you got the governor, you can just go online and see how many major cases he’s handling,” said Ken Wainstein, a defense lawyer and friend who worked with MacBride in prosecuting homicide cases in the U.S. attorney’s office for the District of Columbia. “The reality is, though, he’s always going to be in the middle of some big investigations.”
Former federal prosecutors and other legal experts said MacBride’s departure probably will not have an impact on the high-profile cases.
“It’s the nature of federal prosecutions, particularly in the higher-profile jurisdictions, for investigations and cases to transition from one administration to the next,” said Jacob Frenkel, a former Securities and Exchange Commission enforcement lawyer who now works in private practice. He said a decision to charge the governor, in particular, would probably require a “high-level sign off” from the Justice Department, even if MacBride were to have stayed.
A ‘dream job’
MacBride, 47, a graduate of Houghton College in New York and the University of Virginia law school who lives with his wife and three children in Northern Virginia, declined to be interviewed for this article. But in written responses to a reporter’s inquiries, he said he is leaving a “dream job” and is planning on “taking a big chunk of time off to be with my family.”
“I’m looking forward to my next professional challenge,” he said in a statement.
MacBride told staff members that his resignation will take effect at midnight Sept. 13. His office has about 300 lawyers and other employees working in offices in Alexandria, Richmond, Norfolk and Newport News.
Typically, a departing U.S. attorney is replaced by a first assistant until the president appoints a permanent successor. But MacBride’s first assistant, Dana J. Boente, was appointed in December to serve as the interim U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana after the longtime U.S. attorney there resigned amid revelations that his two top deputies were posting online comments about subjects of the office’s investigations. It is unclear whether Boente will come back to the Eastern District of Virginia or whether the acting first assistant, Kathleen Kahoe, will take over.
Those close to MacBride and other legal experts praised his work as U.S. attorney, saying he elevated an office that already had enjoyed national prominence. Former deputy U.S. attorney general Jamie Gorelick, a longtime friend who is now in private practice, said MacBride was “clearly viewed as one of the stars” of the Justice Department. She said he had planned to leave earlier but stayed because of a handful of prominent cases and because of his first assistant’s departure for New Orleans.