New York attorney fired by Trump administration after he refused to step down
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said on Saturday that he had been fired, one day after the Justice Department asked him and 45 other federal prosecutors who had served under Democratic President Barack Obama to submit their resignations.
“I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired,” Bharara wrote on Twitter. He added that serving as the federal government’s prosecutor in Manhattan “will forever be the greatest honour of my professional life.”
Like all of the nation’s 93 U.S. attorneys, Bharara is a political appointee who is typically replaced when a new president takes office.
The Justice Department said Friday that many Obama-appointed nominees have already left office and those who remain were asked to resign.
Bharara told reporters in November that Trump had asked him to stay on, and he is unsure whether the new request to submit his resignation supersedes that, the source told Reuters.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions’s decision to replace so many sitting attorneys at once has raised questions about whether that would hinder the Trump administration’s ability to enforce the nation’s laws. Career attorneys will carry on that work until new U.S. attorneys are put in place, the Justice Department said.
Bharara’s Manhattan office handles some of the most critical business and criminal cases passing through the federal judicial system. He has been overseeing a probe into New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fundraising.
Trump has asked two of the prosecutors, including Maryland U.S. Attorney Rod Rosenstein, to stay on as the Senate considers Rosenstein’s nomination to serve as the No. 2 Justice Department official, according to the Justice Department. He has also asked Virginia U.S. Attorney Dana Boente, who is temporarily serving in that position, to remain.
A White House spokesman said he did not know whether other U.S. attorneys would be asked to remain in office.
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