Category: Preet Bharara

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FLASHBACK: Sessions Was Axed By Clinton’s Attorney General


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WASHINGTON — Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the resignation of 46 U.S. Attorneys appointed by President Barack Obama Friday.

The action was criticized by opponents of the administration, but Sessions was once on the other side of the chopping block when Bill Clinton became president and Sessions was a U.S. attorney in Alabama.

Ultimately, it is not unusual for a new president to dismiss the appointments of the previous administration’s U.S. attorneys. What is interesting, however, is to see where some of the players in the appointment and dismissal process have ended up between administrations.

In March 1993, Clinton Attorney General Janet Reno ordered the resignation of all 93 U.S. attorneys, all of whom were Reagan and Bush appointments. A Justice Department official told CNBC that Sessions still has the that Reno sent to him at the time.

Letter from AG Reno to US Atty Sessions 1993

 

Reno said she asked for the resignations, according to The Sun Sentinel, “so that the U.S. attorneys presently in position will know where they stand and so that we can begin to build a team that represents a Department of Justice that represents my views and the views of President Clinton.”

Although President Donald Trump previously told now former U.S. Attorney to the Southern District Court of New York Preet Bharara he wanted him to stay on the job, Trump changed his mind and fired Bharara on Saturday after the U.S. attorney refused to resign at first.

Bharara’s history goes back to the George W. Bush administration when he served as Chief Counsel to New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer. Bharara led investigations of the dismissals of U.S. attorneys fired by Bush at the time.

A statement from Schumer’s office to The New York Times said he was “troubled” to learn of the requests for resignations, “particularly that of Preet Bharara.”

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Rumors Swirl That Preet Bharara Is Positioning Himself For A Political Run


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Almost immediately after former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara was fired on Saturday, rumors began swirling in political circles that Bharara’s high-profile exit–forcing the Trump administration to fire him, instead of complying with their request to offer his resignation–was a way of positioning himself to run for political office.

“I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life,” Bharara said on Twitter Saturday afternoon.

Shortly after Bharara’s firing, The New York Daily News’ Kenneth Lovvett wrote: “Bharara has long been speculated about as a potential future candidate for something,” adding: “Bharara has long denied an interest in running for public office, but few in New York’s political circles actually believe that.”

NBC Nightly News writer Brad Jaffy suggested Preet’s dramatic exit was “the potential opening salvo in a Bharara campaign,” possible for mayor of New York City. Preet’s office currently has an open investigation into current NYC mayor Bill de Blasio.

Other political insiders on Twitter echoed Jaffy’s sentiments.

If Bharara were to run for mayor of NYC, he would have to move relatively quickly: the next mayoral election will take place this November. New York’s gubernatorial election is in 2018.

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Trump Administration Fires Prominent Obama-Era Attorney Who Refused To Resign


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The Trump administration fired prominent U.S. attorney Preet Bharara Saturday, after he refused to step down as requested Friday in a Department of Justice sweep of all remaining Obama-era attorneys.

Bharara was blindsided by the letter asking for his resignation Friday, because of explicit assurances from both President Donald Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions that he would be asked to stay on through the transition, reports CNN. He did not send in his letter Friday, and told associates he had no plans to do so over the weekend, sources told The New York Times.

The refusal prompted the administration to fire him outright.

“I did not resign,” Bharara tweeted Saturday afternoon. “Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.”

Bharara has a reputation for aggressively and successfully going after banks and Wall Street insiders, and is finishing up an investigation into New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, as well as reportedly continuing an investigation into the way Fox News handled settlements of sexual harassment claims by some of its employees. He was also about to start trials of two former aides to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

The Justice Department’s move to clear out attorneys from the former presidency has become custom in recent transitions, so it’s not particularly surprising. Former Presidents Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton each dismissed about 90 attorneys in the early months of their presidency. Many of the Obama-era attorneys have already resigned, but Sessions asked the remaining 46 appointed prosecutors to leave their post in the letter Friday, including Bharara.

“Been in the works for awhile,” a senior administration official told Politico, referring to the letter sent Friday. “Decided to pull the trigger today. We were always planning for it on about Day 50.”

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