NEW YORK CITY — Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York — commonly known as the “sheriff of Wall Street” — has been fired by President Donald Trump after refusing to tender his resignation.
“I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honour of my professional life,” Bharara tweeted Saturday afternoon.
It is not uncommon for US attorneys to vacate their positions when a new administration enters the White House.
Attorneys are political appointees, and former president Bill Clinton asked all 93 US attorneys to resign on the day he assumed office.
Bharara, however, was invited to Trump Tower during the transition period and asked to remain in his post. Bharara had agreed to stay on.
“The President-elect asked, presumably because he’s a New Yorker and is aware of the great work that our office has done over the past seven years, asked to meet with me to discuss whether or not I’d be prepared to stay on as the United States attorney to do the work as we have done it, independently, without fear or favour for the last seven years,” Bharara said.
“I have already spoken to Sen. Sessions, who is, as you know, is the nominee to be the attorney general,” he continued. “He also asked that I stay on, and so I expect that I will be continuing to work at the southern district.”
Trump originally asked Bharara to stay on because of a request by New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who made the suggestion when he and Trump were discussing how best to work together. Schumer was unhappy with Trump’s decision to ask Bharara to stay on and then subsequently ask him to resign.
“I’m troubled to learn of reports of requests for resignations from the remaining US attorneys, particularly that of Preet Bharara, after the president 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,” Schumer said.
He added: “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.”
Trump’s and the DOJ’s calls for resignations came on the heels of a Fox News segment during which host Sean Hannity — an early and enthusiastic Trump supporter — advocated for a “purge” of all Obama-appointed Justice Department employees.
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