The United States Attorney General (A.G.) is the head of the United States Department of Justice per 28 U.S.C. § 503, concerned with all legal affairs, and is the chief lawyer of the United States government. In cases of the federal death penalty, the power to seek the death penalty rests with the Attorney General.
Under Article II Sec. 2 of the Constitution the Attorney General is nominated by the President and appointed with the advice and consent of Congress. The Constitution is clear that the Attorney General may be impeached by Congress. As to whether the Attorney General may be summarily removed by the President, no provision of the Constitution grants this power. The decisional law suggests that the President has the power to remove an official engaged in purely executive functions or an official whose duties immediately affect the President's ability to fulfill his constitutional responsibilities, (Bowsher v. Synar, 1986), but provides little or no guidance as to whether the office of Attorney General falls within these general guidelines.
Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789 which, besides other things, established the Office of the Attorney General. The original duties of this officer were "to prosecute and conduct all suits in the Supreme Court in which the United States shall be concerned, and to give his or her advice and opinion upon questions of law when required by the President of the United States, or when requested by the heads of any of the departments."
The Department of Justice was established in 1870 to support the Attorney General in the discharge of their responsibilities.
The Attorney General, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, and the Secretary of Defense are generally regarded as the four most important cabinet officials in the United States because of the importance and age of their respective departments.
It is the practice for the Attorney General, along with many other public officials, to give resignation with effect on the Inauguration Day (January 20) of a new President. The Deputy Attorney General, who is also required to tender their resignation, is commonly requested to stay on and act as Attorney General pending the confirmation by the Senate of the new Attorney General.
For example, on the inauguration of President Donald Trump on January, 20, 2017, the tenure of the then Attorney General Loretta Lynch was brought to an end, and the Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who had also tendered her resignation, was asked to stay on and be Acting Attorney General until the confirmation of the new Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had been nominated for the office in November 2016 by then-President-elect Donald Trump. However, Yates was dismissed by Trump on January 30, 2017 before Sessions had been confirmed. Dana Boente automatically succeeded Yates as Acting Attorney General as the next available successor in the line of succession. Boente, who was the United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, was the most senior Justice Department official whose resignation had not been accepted by Trump. When Sessions was confirmed and sworn in as Attorney General on February 9, 2017, Boente became Acting Deputy Attorney General. On March 10, 2017, Sessions oversaw the firing of 46 United States Attorneys, leaving only his acting Deputy Dana Boente and nominated Deputy Rod Rosenstein in place. Rosenstein's appointment was subject to Senate confirmation. Rosenstein was confirmed on April 25, 2017 and became Deputy Attorney General on April 26, 2017, and Boente reverted to his permanent position.