MAMOSA Report — Preet Bharara, the top federal prosecutor in New York, who had developed a singularly influential profile over the past eight years with a host of high-profile prosecutions against Wall Street fraudsters, corrupt politicians, international terrorists and overseas cybercriminals, on Saturday was fired from his position as the Manhattan U.S. attorney, after he refused to submit his resignation to the Trump administration, setting up a standoff between himself and the president.
Days before his firing, Mr. Bharara received a request from an independent advocacy group to undertake an investigation of Trump’s business related organizations if they were receiving payments and financial benefits from foreign governments that benefit the President and that do not comply with the “Foreign Emoluments Clause” of the Constitution.
The development leading to Mr. Bharara’s resignation sent shock waves through New York’s legal, law-enforcement and political circles and drew comments from his peers and influential legal minds.
Former Attorney General Loretta Lynch tweeted:
Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), the top Democrat on the House Oversight Committee, suggested that President Trump could have changed his mind on firing Mr. Bharara because he had been asked to investigate the President’s potential violations of the Emoluments Clause. “…there’s a lot of questions coming up as to whether President Trump is concerned about the jurisdiction of this U.S. attorney and whether that might affect his future.”
Daniel Richman, a Columbia Law School professor and former Manhattan federal prosecutor said, “Mr. Bharara had nurtured and promoted the office culture as a bastion of independence, integrity and prosecutorial zeal.”
Although it isn’t uncommon for a new administration to replace the U.S. attorneys appointed by the previous administration, Friday’s request was particularly surprising for Mr. Bharara. In November, President Donald Trump met with him in Trump Tower and asked him to stay in his current position, Mr. Bharara told reporters at the time.
Mr. Cummings told George Stephanopoulos on his talk show, “I wonder, you know, just not very long ago, the president was saying that he was going to keep the U.S. attorney there in New York. And then, suddenly, he’s, I guess, changed his mind.”
According to Mr. Cummings, “There is an air of distrust that has been brought on by President Trump himself and so many others. And,, so I think that, in part, the president has created this situation for himself. But yes, sure. No doubt about it. When they asked about Emoluments clause and possible violations of it and the U.S. Attorney’s relationship to that, I think perhaps that had perhaps something to do with it,” Mr. Cummings added.
Mr. Bharara shared the news of his firing on Saturday via his personal Twitter account. “I did not resign,” he wrote. “Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.”
46 other U.S. attorneys were asked to resign.
“When you look at everything, surrounding the investigations, there are a lot of questions that need to be asked. But again, the president does have that prerogative (to fire),” Cummings said.
On Saturday afternoon, Mr. Bharara was told by phone that the request to resign applied to him as well, according to a person familiar with the call.
Mr. Bharara in a statement on Saturday said: “One hallmark of justice is absolute independence, and that was my touchstone every day that I served.”
President Trump does have the power to fire US attorneys. The firing itself was not unprecedented or a violation of the law. It is the potential reason why this one US attorney was fired that is raising questions, wrote Jason Easley in her latest opinion piece in the Politicus USA, suggesting suggesting Bharara’s firing could be a cover-up
Rep. Cummings (D-MD) isn’t the only person who is questioning Trump’s motives.
Carrie Cohen, a former assistant U.S. attorney who led the Southern District’s prosecution of longtime Democratic New York state Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, said Saturday that Mr. Bharara’s firing raised serious concerns about the direction of the office.
“Preet led the office with one goal – – to seek the truth and do justice,” Ms. Cohen said. “Extremely worrisome that those goals no longer seem to be valued by the current administration.”