U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride — whose office is in the national spotlight as it investigates Virginia Gov. Robert F. McDonnell and those in the WikiLeaks organization — told staff members Thursday that he plans to leave his post in the Eastern District of Virginia next month.
The announcement, which comes as MacBride nears four years in the office, will almost certainly raise questions about the status of those investigations and how they might proceed without the seasoned attorney’s hand to guide them. Friends said that MacBride previously delayed his departure because of the ongoing investigations.
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.”