This story has been updated to reflect Preet Bharara’s announcement that he had been fired.
A U.S. attorney in New York who had been previously promised by President Donald Trump that he’d be allowed to keep his post was fired Saturday, amidst confusion whether the broad call for Obama-era U.S. attorneys to step down applied to him.
President Obama’s U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara said on Twitter Saturday that he’d been fired after reports surfaced that he had not submitted a letter of resignation as requested by Trump’s Justice Department.
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 Justice Department on Friday abruptly asked the 46 U.S. attorneys who were holdovers from the previous administration to step down. Bharara told his colleagues Friday that he had not submitted the requested letter of resignation and did not plan to over the weekend, according to reports in the Daily Beast and New York Times.
Bharara had met with Trump soon after November’s election in Trump Tower, where Trump told him he’d keep Bharara in the position. Attorney General Jeff Sessions called Bharara this week and reiterated that he would maintain the post, a federal law enforcement official told the Daily Beast.
The Washington Post reported Saturday afternoon that Bharara did not submit his resignation because he was confused whether the broad call for resignations applied to him. Bharara brought this up in a phone call with acting Deputy Attorney General Dana Boente, who had been informing the U.S. attorneys of the resignation requests Friday afternoon, according to the Post, but Boente was unable to clear the matter up.
Bharara was involved in a number of high-profile investigations, including a probe of associates of New York Mayor Bill de Blasio and a case against a top aide to New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo.
It is typical for a new administration to clean house and bring in a new slate of U.S. attorneys, particularly if it is succeeding a president of a different party. What made Friday’s resignation requests unusual was that they came before Trump had put forward nominees to replace the officials, according to the Daily Beast, and in Bharara’s case, that he was asked to resign after previously being told he would stay on.