When Donald Trump was elected president last November, he asked Preet Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, to stay on the job. But on Friday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions told the 46 U.S. attorneys that were holdovers from the Barack Obama administration to tender their resignations immediately.
Bharara refused and said Trump would have to fire him. On Saturday afternoon, this is what Bharara tweeted.
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 reason this has become a big deal? Well, because Trump initially wanted him on the job. But secondly, Bharara has become known as an attorney who cracks down on Wall Street and on the public corruption of those in New York’s state government (including Democrats and Republicans). He also was the one who won a conviction over the founder of Silk Road.
As the Wall Street Journal explained, “U.S. attorneys occasionally keep their jobs following a change in administration, but the news [that Bharara would remain in his job] in November was particularly surprising, given Mr. Bharara’s reputation for aggressively prosecuting insider-trading cases and other Wall Street wrongdoing. That seemed to be at odds with Mr. Trump’s decision to select Wall Street investors for prominent cabinet positions, including former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. executive Steven Mnuchin for Treasury Secretary and billionaire private-equity investor Wilbur Ross for Commerce Secretary.”