It's not often the U.S. attorney general flies to North Dakota specifically to hold a press conference to praise the work of the state's U.S. attorney and the good work his office did in busting bad guys. Any time this happens, it should be noted and underlined with a red Sharpie pen.
So consider this column as an official noting and underlining of Jeff Sessions' stop in Fargo last week.
Also consider it a question from the peanut gallery: If the current U.S. attorney is doing such a great job for the people of North Dakota, why replace him?
Or, to put more directly: If you've got Chris Myers, why do you need Drew Wrigley?
A U.S. attorney is the federal prosecutor assigned to a specific district. In North Dakota's case, the district is the entire state. It's the top federal law enforcement job in the state.
Myers has been U.S. attorney since 2015. His work has earned praise from every corner, as has his nonpartisan approach to the job. Myers is laser-focused on getting the bad guys, a behind-the-scenes guy instead of an in-front-of-the-cameras one.
That's why the effusive praise from Sessions last week must've meant so much to Myers. The attorney general particularly singled out Myers for his work in busting an opioid-dealing ring that stretched from China to North Dakota.
This is good stuff, probably a career pinnacle for Myers. Having the U.S. attorney general fly into your backyard to pat you on the back for all the world to see-yeah, it doesn't get any better than that.
Funny thing, though. Myers might not be long for the job, despite the excellence with which he does it.
That would be thanks to Wrigley, who a year ago decided he wanted to return to his old job of being U.S. attorney for North Dakota because ... well, because. Wrigley, a well-known partisan Republican, was U.S. attorney from 2001-09 before serving as lieutenant governor under Jack Dalrymple for eight years. He was a fast-track political star until he admitted to an extramarital affair in 2016, derailing his run for governor.
With Republican President Donald Trump's election in 2016, Wrigley let it be known he wanted to be appointed U.S. attorney. Doing so effectively cut off Myers' career at the knees.
And that was that. Except it wasn't, exactly. Trump's administration has made 12 rounds of nominations for U.S. attorneys, so far filling 60 of the 93 available jobs. Wrigley's name has not yet been nominated. Still, Wrigley is said to be extremely confident he'll be returning to his old job. He's probably right to feel that way.
But the public should know that the current guy, who wanted to keep the job before being knee-capped by Wrigley, is really good at it. And they should ask if North Dakota citizens are best-served by replacing a U.S. attorney whom Sessions flew halfway across the country to single out for praise.