Saturday 29 April 2017

Powerful US attorney who refused to resign has been fired

Preet Bharara, US attorney for the Southern District of New York, discusses arrests in the malware BlackShades Remote Access Tool (AP)
Preet Bharara, US attorney for the Southern District of New York, discusses arrests in the malware BlackShades Remote Access Tool (AP)
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said on Saturday that he had been fired, one day after the Justice Department asked him and 45 other federal prosecutors who had served under Democratic President Barack Obama to submit their resignations.

"I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired," Bharara wrote on Twitter.

He added that serving as the federal government's prosecutor in Manhattan "will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life."

Bharara, whose jurisdiction as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York included Manhattan, has handled a string of high-profile corruption and white-collar criminal cases. He was one of 46 Obama administration holdovers who were asked to resign by the Justice Department on Friday.

Like all of the nation's 93 U.S. attorneys, Bharara is a political appointee who is typically replaced when a new president takes office.

Bharara told reporters in November that Trump had asked him to stay on, and a source familiar with the situation told Reuters that he was confused by the Justice Department's request that he step down.

Bharara's office and the Justice Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Saturday.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions's decision to replace so many sitting attorneys at once has raised questions about whether that would hinder the Trump administration's ability to enforce the nation's laws. Career attorneys will carry on that work until new U.S. attorneys are put in place, the Justice Department said.

Bharara's Manhattan office handles some of the most critical business and criminal cases passing through the federal judicial system. He has been overseeing a probe into New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's fundraising.

Reuters

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