The Slatest

Trump Fired High-Profile Prosecutor Preet Bharara After He Refused to Resign

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara speaks at a news conference on Sept. 17, 2015 in New York City.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Update, 2:45 p.m.: Preet Bahara says he was fired from his post Saturday afternoon.

Original Post: On Friday, the Trump administration moved to replace Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys, asking 46 holdovers from the previous administration for their resignations. It’s not an unusual move to replace prosecutors appointed by the previous president; 47 of the 93 U.S. attorneys had already left their posts. One source of tension and potential intrigue, however, is the fate of high-profile prosecutor Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, who reportedly refused to tender his resignation.

“Mr. Bharara, whose office is overseeing a case against a top aide to Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo and an investigation into people close to Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City, has told several people that he did not hand in a resignation on Friday, as he was ordered to do by the acting deputy attorney general, Dana Boente,” the New York Times reports. “He also does not intend to do so over the weekend, he said in conversations with associates, a move that could force the hand of the Trump administration.”

Bharara has served 7 years as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, a jurisdiction that includes Trump Tower. In the aftermath of the election, Bharara said he had been asked to stay on in his job by Trump during a meeting with the then–president-elect at Trump Tower. “We had a good meeting,” Bharara said at the time. “I said I would absolutely consider staying on. I agreed to stay on.”

Here’s more on Bharara from the Times:

Under Mr. Bharara’s stewardship, the office was also known for its insider trading investigations, civil rights cases and terrorism prosecutions … In past presidential transitions, the storied office, long known to be so independent of Washington that some people referred to it as the Sovereign District of New York, has in large measure moved forward unaffected by politics. Under Mr. Bharara, the office prosecuted Democratic and Republican officials with equal ardor, most notably Sheldon Silver, the former Democratic speaker of New York’s Assembly, and Dean G. Skelos, the former Republican majority leader of the State Senate …

His office is preparing to try a group of former aides and associates of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo in a wide-ranging bribery and bid-rigging case and has been investigating Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign fund-raising as part of an inquiry into whether he or other officials exchanged official acts for political donations … Another pending investigation appears to focus on how Fox News structured settlements of claims brought by network employees.