Author :BROOKE SEIPEL
Posted : 03/11/17 the HILL
Preet Bharara, one of the most high-profile federal prosecutors in the country, said Saturday he was fired from President Trump’s administration after he refused to resign when asked by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
«I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life,» tweeted Bharara, who served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Bharara reiterated in a statement that he was fired from his position of the last seven years, adding that serving as the top prosecutor in Manhattan «will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life, no matter what else I do or how long I live.»
«One hallmark of justice is absolute independence, and that was my touchstone every day that I served,» he said in the statement released by the U.S. attorney’s office.
«I want to thank the amazing people of the Southern District of New York, the greatest public servants in the world, for everything they do each day in pursuit of justice. They will continue to do the great work of the Office under the leadership of Joon H. Kim, the current Deputy U.S. Attorney, who will serve as Acting U.S. Attorney,» he added.
Acting U.S. Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente had called Bharara and informed him that Trump was firing him, CNN’s Jake Tapper reported.
Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) heralded Bharara as an «exemplary U.S. attorney.»
«His relentless drive to root out public corruption, lock up terrorists, take on Wall Street, and stand up for what is right should serve as a model for all U.S. attorneys across the country. He will be sorely missed,» Schumer said in a statement.
U.S. attorneys are normally replaced at the beginning of new administrations and Sessions on Friday asked 46 federal prosecutors appointed by former President Barack Obama to submit their resignations.
But the decision to ask for Bharara’s resignation came as a surprise, as he reportedly met with Trump after the election and agreed to remain in his position after Trump took office. Sessions had also asked him to stay, Bharara told The New York Times.
Multiple reports indicated that Bharara was refusing to resign. The Daily Beast reported late Friday that Bharara had told his section chiefs that he’d yet to submit the requested letter and may instead challenge Sessions to fire him.
Bharara built a reputation in New York by going after big banks and Wall Street. His office has been working through an investigation of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) and was slated to start the trials of two close allies to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D).
There are 93 U.S. attorneys in total. Sessions’ request Friday that the Obama holdovers resign was meant «to ensure a uniform transition,» DOJ spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.
“As was the case in prior transitions, many of the United States Attorneys nominated by the previous administration already have left the Department of Justice,» the spokeswoman said.
Schumer had said Friday in a statement that he was «troubled» by the Trump administration’s request that Bharara and other U.S. attorneys from the past administration resign.
The Senate Democratic leader said in a statement that Trump «initiated a call to me in November and assured me he wanted Mr. Bharara to continue to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District.»
«While it’s true that presidents from both parties made their own choices for U.S. Attorney positions across the country, they have always done so in an orderly fashion that doesn’t put ongoing investigations at risk. They ask for letters of resignation but the attorneys are allowed to stay on the job until their successor is confirmed,» Schumer said.
«By asking for the immediate resignation of every remaining U.S. Attorney before their replacements have been confirmed or even nominated, the President is interrupting ongoing cases and investigations and hindering the administration of justice.»
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (Calif.), the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, had also issued a statement criticizing the «abrupt firing» of federal prosecutors.
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), Democracy 21 and the Campaign Legal Center sent Bharara a letter this week asking him to investigate Trump’s ties with foreign governments.
The message purportedly asked that Bharara probe whether Trump has received payments or other benefits from foreign governments through his business interests.
Source : http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/323544-obama-appointed-us-attorney-fired-by-trump-after-refusing-to