Joseph E. diGenova's official term as U.S. attorney for the District of Columbia ended yesterday and, despite persistent and widespread rumors to the contrary, he says he has no intention of leaving his post immediately.
Although U.S. attorneys are appointed to four-year terms, they usually remain on the job until a successor is chosen, especially a presidential election is in the offing. Currently 21 of 93 U.S. attorneys are on "holdover" status, including Rudolph Giuliani, U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York, whose term ended during the summer.
U.S. attorneys are political appointees and incoming presidents usually appoint their own slate.
"I have made no decision," diGenova said in an interview yesterday.
"My term is over and, after six years in this office, I am reviewing my options. It's a good time to do that."
DiGenova joined the U.S. attorney's office here in early 1982 as the principal assistant to then-U.S. Attorney Stanley S. Harris. DiGenova was sworn in as U.S. attorney on Dec. 2, 1983, the same day Harris took the oath as a U.S. District judge.
For months, the Washington rumor mill has been churning with speculation that diGenova might run for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Democrat Paul S. Sarbanes of Maryland. DiGenova apparently added fuel to the fire when he and his wife, Deputy Assistant Attorney General Victoria Toensing, moved from the District to Bethesda.
"The options I am reviewing do not include running for any office," diGenova said. "Paul Sarbanes serves the people of Maryland well."
DiGenova said he and his wife moved because "we both found a house we like."
He also denied rumors that he and his wife have offered themselves to executive recruiters as a package hiring deal.
DiGenova would not discuss ongoing investigations in his office. They include the probe of D.C. contracting practices and the obstruction of justice investigation of alleged payoffs to convicted cocaine dealer Karen K. Johnson in exchange for her silence before a federal grand jury looking into allegations of drug use by Mayor Marion Barry and other city officials.
But he said his leaving would have no effect on the investigations.
"Everything will be completed whether or not I'm here," diGenova said. "Things are well enough along that I feel comfortable about leaving, knowing that all investigations that are outstanding will be completed."