On Friday, Preet Bharara was one of 46 United States attorneys appointed by former President Barack Obama asked to resign. He was requested to immediately clean out his offices. The request was surprising because Bharara was asked by Trump to stay on during a meeting in November.
Abrupt resignation request:
Bharara refused to resign, and on Saturday, he announced on Twitter that he had been fired.
During his time in office, Bharara took on several high-profile cases involving Wall Street. He was in the middle of investigating New York mayor Bill de Blasio’s fund-raising, as well as preparing to try former top aides to the governor of New York, Andrew M. Cuomo, (both Democrats). He enjoyed the spotlight and was a highly public prosecutor.
Bharara’s office is also investigating whether Fox News failed to properly inform shareholders of settlements with female employees who accused the channel’s former chief, Roger Ailes, of sexual harassment.
It’s not yet clear how his departure would affect his cases
On Saturday afternoon, Bharara wrote on twitter: “I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired.” Referring to the Southern District of New York, he continued, “Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.”
It’s customary for presidents to choose their appointees for United States attorney positions and ask those from their predecessors to leave. However, the process under Trump was unusually abrupt. In November, Bharara’s job appeared to be secure. He met with Trump in Trump tower and was asked to remain in the job.
Which explains the feeling of whiplash that occurred in the prosecutor’s Manhattan office after he was asked to resign on Friday. But, unlike his fellow United States attorneys, Bharara refused to resign
The number of 46 attorneys who were asked to leave who resigned is not yet known. But on Friday, Robert L. Capers, the United States attorney in Brooklyn, announced his resignation.
Souring relationship or fear of investigation?
Two White House officials said that Trump promised to keep Bharara in his position due to the president’s desire to try to work with Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, with whom Bharara is close. However, the relationship between Trump and Schumer, the Senate minority leader, has since soured.
Former Schume aide to and Democratic strategist, Phil Singer, stated that suggesting firing Bharara to punish Schumer is absurd. He instead pointed out that any investigation involving Trump Tower would fall within Bharara’s office district, which encompasses Manhattan, Mr. Trump’s home before he was elected president, as well as the Bronx, Westchester County and other counties north of New York City.
The White House didn’t comment on the timing of the push for mass resignations besides insisting that it’s not a reaction to calls from Fox News’ Sean Hannity to clean house at the Justice Department.