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Pardon Attorney Leff Letter of Resignation, Office of the Pardon Attorney, January 31, 2016

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u.s. Department of Justice
Office of the Pardon Attorney


Washingtoll, D.G. 20530


The Honorable Sally Quillian Yates
Deputy Attorney General
U.S. Department of Justice
950 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W.
Wash ington, D.C. 20530


January 15, 2016

Dear Sally:

I write today to resign my position as Pardon Attorney effective January 31, 2016.
I have reached this decision because I am unable to carry out my job effectively, despite my intense efforts to do
so. I fully support and admire the Administration's ground breaking and much-needed launch of the Clemency
Initiative and the possibility of justice it brings to so many deserving people. I have worked tirelessly since day one
to do alii can to make the Initiative a success. But given that the Department has not fulfilled its commitment to
provide the resources necessary for my office to make timely and thoughtful recommendations on clemency to the
President, given your statement that the needed staff will not be forthcoming, and given that I have been
instructed to set aside thousands of petitions for pardon and traditional commutation, I cannot fulfill my
responsibilities as Pardon Attorney.
In addition, as you know, I have been deeply troubled by the decision to deny the Pardon Attorney all access to the
Office of White House Counsel, even to share the reasons for our determinations in the increasing number of cases
where you have reversed our recommendations . I believe that prior to making the serious and complex decisions
underlying clemency, it is important for the President to have a full set of views. For that reason, I am encouraged
by the commitment now to share the Pardon Attorney's recommendations and rationale with White House
Counsel. This will be important for my staff, who have considerable expertise on clemency matters; for my
successor; and most important, for the integrity of the decision-making process.
As you may know, I began my legal career with the Department of Justice, given my deep dedication to its mission
and values. I have been honored to serve as Pardon Attorney and to work for a President committed to the
reinvigoration of the clemency process and the promise for justice that holds. But the pOSition in which my office
has been placed, asking us to address the petitions of nearly 10,000 individuals with so few attorneys and support
staff, means that the requests of thousands of petitioners seeking justice will lie unheard. This is inconsistent with
the mission and values to which I have dedicated my life, and inconsistent with what I believe the Department
should represent.
I want to be as helpful as possible during the transition process so would appreciate your letting me know how I
might best do that.



Pardon Attorney