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