NY prose­cu­tor says Trump fired him after he didn’t step down

New Straits Times - - World -

A prom­i­nent United States prose­cu­tor said the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion fired him on Satur­day after he re­fused to step down, adding a dis­cor­dant note to what is nor­mally a rou­tine chang­ing of top at­tor­neys when a new pres­i­dent takes of­fice.

New York US at­tor­ney Preet Bharara’s de­fi­ant exit, first an­nounced on Twit­ter, raised ques­tions about Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s abil­ity to fill top jobs in his gov­ern­ment.

Trump had yet to put for­ward any can­di­dates to serve as the na­tion’s 93 district at­tor­neys even as his Jus­tice Depart­ment asked the 46, who have not yet quit, to hand in their res­ig­na­tions on Fri­day.

As the fed­eral prose­cu­tor for Man­hat­tan and sur­round­ing ar­eas since 2009, Bharara se­cured in­sider-trad­ing set­tle­ments from Wall Street firms and won crim­i­nal con­vic­tions in high-pro­file cor­rup­tion and ter­ror­ism cases.

He said in Novem­ber that Trump had asked him to stay in his post, and he re­fused to re­sign when asked to do so by the Jus­tice Depart­ment on Fri­day. He said he was fired on Satur­day.

“Serv­ing my coun­try as US at­tor­ney here for the past seven years will for­ever be the great­est hon­our of my pro­fes­sional life, no mat­ter what else I do or how long I live,” Bharara said.

The Jus­tice Depart­ment con­firmed that Bharara was no longer serv­ing in the po­si­tion.

Like all US at­tor­neys, Bharara is a po­lit­i­cal ap­pointee who can be re­placed when a new pres­i­dent takes of­fice. Pre­vi­ous pres­i­dents have of­ten asked out­go­ing US at­tor­neys to stay on the job un­til their re­place­ments are con­firmed by the Se­nate.

But the de­ci­sion to re­place so many sit­ting at­tor­neys at once had raised ques­tions about whether the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s abil­ity to en­force laws would be hin­dered.

Bharara said his deputy, Joon Kim, would serve as his tem­po­rary re­place­ment.

Bharara’s of­fice had been over­see­ing a probe into New York City Mayor Bill de Bla­sio’s fundrais­ing.

Bharara had pros­e­cuted state and lo­cal politi­cians for cor­rup­tion, in­clud­ing for­mer New York As­sem­bly speaker Shel­don Sil­ver.

He won a life­time sen­tence against the Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, and a 25-year sen­tence for in­ter­na­tional arms dealer Vik­tor Bout.

He won a $1.8 bil­lion (RM7.9 bil­lion) in­sider-trad­ing set­tle­ment against SAC Cap­i­tal Ad­vi­sors, the largest in his­tory, which forced the hedge fund to shut down. He also forced JPMor­gan Chase to pay US$1.7 bil­lion to set­tle charges re­lated to its role in the Bernie Mad­off Ponzi scheme.

Preet Bharara

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