Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the South District New York region, announced that he was fired after he refused to step down when asked to by the Trump administration.
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
The timing of this termination is peculiar because ethics watchdogs had reportedly asked Bharara on March 8 to look into many of President Donald Trump's business interests that may violate the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Nearly three days later, he was fired.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara was reportedly asked to investigate Trump's violations of the emoluments clause….— Rantt (@RanttNews) March 12, 2017
Then was coincidentally fired https://t.co/tmoWaIJg18
Bharara was one of the 46 prosecutors, hired by former President Barack Obama, who were abruptly asked to resign by the Justice Department by the U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Friday.
The prosecutor’s area of expertise was high-profile corruption. Over the course of his career, he had prosecuted many Republican and Democrat lawmakers, as well as Wall Street bankers. He made history by winning a $1.8 billion insider-trading case against hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors. SAC was shut down.
Currently, he was investigating a fundraising initiative by New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and a case of sexual harassment filed against Fox News by its employees. Moreover, he had been asked by a group of ethics watchdogs to gauge whether President Trump’s many business interests violate the Emoluments Clause of the U.S. Constitution.
"Published reports indicate that the Trump Organization and related Trump business entities have been receiving payments from foreign government sources which benefit President Trump through his ownership of the Trump Organization and related business entities," the letter said.
The Emoluments Clause says that "no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under [the U.S. government], shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince, or foreign State."
The letter sent to Bharara pointed out that the tenants of Trump Tower, a building partly owned by the president, include the government of China, as well as the Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. The president is also the owner of a skyscraper in Manhattan, which was constructed from loans from the state-owned Bank of China.
The letter was sent of March 8 and on March 11, Bharara was fired, as per his tweet.
Asking prosecutors hired by the previous president to resign is standard practice, but the urgent dismissal of more than 40 prosecutors has sent shock waves in Washington.
However, ex-Republican strategist Brian Walsh pointed out that "U.S. attorneys serve at the pleasure of the [president] — even Preet" and could thus be fired at the whim of the president.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Lucas Jackson