Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt (R) withdrew prosecutors from two dozen federal violent crimes cases in St. Louis over the last week, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
Before Gov. Michael Parson signed the Second Amendment Preservation Act on Saturday, Schmitt ordered 19 withdrawals last Friday, which impacts cases involving drugs, gun, and carjackings.
Schmitt partnered with the federal government in 2019 via the Safer Streets Initiative, which also involves Springfield and Kansas City. Through the initiative, he loaned out prosecutors to help more effectively combat violent crimes. Crimes in these cases, which are often lengthy, now risk going without prosecution since the withdrawal.
Upon request for comment from Breitbart News asking why prosecutors were pulled from these cases, Schmitt’s office emphasized that he is “committed to fighting violent crime:”
As is the natural course in the Safer Streets Initiative, we started the process to replace the old class of SAUSAs with new prosecutors, and we began the process of selecting the new class over the last few weeks. We have been and continue to be committed to fighting violent crime, and we’re also committed to protecting law abiding citizens’ Second Amendment rights.
These prosecutor turnovers reportedly occur around mid-to-late summer every year, but Schmitt’s office would not specifically answer whether these cases will be reassigned or dropped.
“We don’t typically discuss case assignments publicly,” his office said.
Schmitt’s withdrawals closely coincide with the signing of the Second Amendment Preservation Act, a bill that had the Department of Justice asking for clarification on Missouri’s heightened stance on gun rights.
Though there may not necessarily be a link between the two, Missouri officials “fear that state prosecutors could run afoul of the new law in their collaborations with federal authorities” and that “the law could affect anti-crime task forces made up of federal, state and local law enforcement officers,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Schmitt told Assistant Acting Attorney General for the Civil Division at the DOJ Brian Boynton in a letter on Thursday that he is complying with the Second Amendment Preservation Act to prevent the DOJ from enforcing potentially leftist gun legislation in Missouri:
Missouri is not attempting to nullify federal law, Instead Missouri is defending its people from federal government overreach by prohibiting state and local law enforcement agencies from being used by the federal government to infringe Missourians’ right to keep and bear arms
Schmitt sent the letter in response to an initial letter that Boynton sent to Parson and him on Wednesday, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported. In the letter, Boynton said:
[The law] threatens to imperil the longstanding and close cooperation between the Federal Government and law enforcement agencies in Missouri that seek to jointly combat violent crime in the state. At a time when homicides have increased in Missouri and neighboring states, measures that impair the effective enforcement of federal law will increase the risk of violent crime in our communities.
Despite his zeal for the new bill and the prosecutor withdrawals, Schmitt — as recently as February — touted the effectiveness of the Safer Streets Initiative.
“[The initiative has] resulted in 516 charges against 289 defendants across the state. Additionally, 356 firearms have been taken off the streets as a result of the initiative,” according to a release from Schmitt’s office, which said:
Since taking office, prosecuting violent crime in Missouri’s major cities has remained a top priority of mine as Attorney General. Missourians shouldn’t have to fear walking down the street in a neighborhood they’ve lived in their whole life – that’s why one of my first actions was to launch the Safer Streets Initiative. …It’s my hope that this initiative can continue in the coming years to keep Missouri’s most violent offenders off the streets.
Notably, prosecutors that were withdrawn on Friday have not been withdrawn in “dozens of other cases, including some involving gun charges,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
With violent crime rising in big cities around U.S. in the wake of the Black Lives Matter movement, most Republicans are looking for candidates who are tough on crime. In September of 2020, St. Louis was rated #1 with a projected murder rate [PMR] of 90.4, Breitbart News previously reported.
Schmitt is running for U.S. Senate in 2022 against Ex-Missouri Governor Eric Greitens. Despite his resignation amidst allegations of an extra-marital affair, blackmail, and misuse of funds, Greitens has polled favorably in Missouri, according to the Associated Press.
Greitens has made “increasingly frequent appearances on conservative radio and television appealing to supporters of former President Donald Trump, who carried Missouri with 57% of the vote in 2020,” AP reported.
With Trump’s hardline stance on law and order widely supported, GOP contenders will most likely have to prove a “tough-on-crime attitude” to sway voters. How Schmitt’s withdrawal will impact his Senate run remains to be seen.