Despite a reported promise by US President Donald Trump that he would be able to stay on as US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara was abruptly fired Saturday after being asked to resign Friday with little, if any, notice.
Bharara was among 46 US Attorneys asked to leave, though his specific situation remained a bit murky heading into Saturday before the final confirmation that afternoon.
While a purge of US Attorneys is common with new administrations, the news about Bharara came as a shock as Trump had requested him to stay on in late November.
Bharara made a name for himself in the world of online poker after his office took down four brands alleged to have been involved in money laundering activities on April 15, 2011, a move that would quickly come to be known as “Black Friday”. Among them, Full Tilt Poker, was found to be engaging in a ponzi scheme.
To his credit, the now former US Attorney ensured affected US Full Tilt Poker customers eventually received payment years later.
Following their meeting on November 30, Bharara told reporters he "agreed to stay on" after speaking with the then-President-elect.
"The President-elect asked, presumably because he's a New Yorker and is aware of the great work that our office has done over the past seven years, asked to meet with me to discuss whether or not I'd be prepared to stay on as the United States attorney to do the work as we have done it, independently, without fear or favor for the last seven years," Bharara said.
"I have already spoken to Sen. Sessions, who is, as you know, is the nominee to be the attorney general," he continued. "He also asked that I stay on, and so I expect that I will be continuing to work at the southern district."
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer released a statement on Friday evening expressing his dismay with the move against Bharara.
"I’m troubled to learn of reports of requests for resignations from the remaining US attorneys, particularly that of Preet Bharara, after the president initiated a call to me in November and assured me he wanted Mr. Bharara to continue to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District," Schumer said. "While it’s true that presidents from both parties made their own choices for U.S. Attorney positions across the country, they have always done so in an orderly fashion that doesn’t put ongoing investigations at risk. They ask for letters of resignation but the attorneys are allowed to stay on the job until their successor is confirmed."
"By asking for the immediate resignation of every remaining US attorney before their replacements have been confirmed or even nominated, the president is interrupting ongoing cases and investigations and hindering the administration of justice," The New York Democrat continued.
- Gilbert Horowitz, Gambling911.com