New York U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara who had said that he was not following instructions by the Trump administration to resign, announced on Saturday that he had been fired.
The move comes one day after the Justice Department asked some 46 top federal prosecutors who had served under Democratic President Barack Obama to submit their resignations.
“I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired,” Bharara tweeted, adding that serving as the federal prosecutor in Manhattan “will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.”
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.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 11, 2017
Acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente called Bharara on Saturday in order to inform him that Trump had fired him, according to CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Acting deputy Attorney General Dana Boente just called US Attorney Preet Bharara and told him President Trump was firing him.
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) March 11, 2017
Bharara, who has handled some of the highest profile corruption and white-collar criminal cases in the nation, essentially forced the administration to fire him by refusing to tender his resignation.
The prosecutor has successfully handled criminal cases against defendants like the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad. Bharara, and also won a $1.8 billion insider-trading settlement against SAC Capital Advisors, the largest in history. Bharara’s case forced SAC to shut down.
The Justice Department’s decision to ask for the resignation of the remaining top prosecutors in the department came as a surprise, particularly as to Bharara. In late November, he had personally met with the then-president-elect at Trump Tower, at which time he was asked to remain at his post, according to an interview that the prosecutor gave after he emerged from the elevator after his meeting with Trump.
His office is currently working on an investigation of New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and on the verge of starting trial on two close allies of the state’s governor, Andrew Cuomo.
The Trump administration’s move asking for prosecutors to immediately vacate their posts means that the posts will remain vacant for the foreseeable future as all such appointments need confirmation by the U.S. Senate. It also puts the administration in even a deeper hole than it already was in its nomination process for top positions within the government.