U.S. Attorney Resignations To Include Bharara, Who Was Told He Would Stay

Evan Vucci/AP

On Friday, President Donald Trump’s Justice Department asked for resignations from all remaining Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys – including one who said in November that Attorney General Jeff Sessions had personally told him he would keep his job.

The Justice Department’s call for resignations from the Obama holdovers is not unusual: President Bill Clinton asked all 93 U.S. attorneys to resign on the same day. Former President Obama nominated his own U.S. attorneys, too, but allowed many Bush holdovers to continue to serve until their predecessors were confirmed.

But one of the 46 attorneys who had yet to resign after Trump took office, Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in November after a meeting with Trump that he was promised the same job in the new administration.

“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 on Nov. 30, after meeting with Trump in Trump Tower.

“I agreed to stay on,” he added. “I have already spoken to Sen. Sessions, who is, as you know, is the nominee to be the attorney general. He also asked that I stay on, and so I expect that I will be continuing to work at the southern district.”

The New York Times reported Friday that Bharara was among those asked to resign, citing an unnamed person familiar with the matter. Reached by TPM over the phone, a spokesperson for Bharara’s office had no comment.

“As was the case in prior transitions, many of the United States Attorneys nominated by the previous administration already have left the Department of Justice,” Justice Department spokesperson Sarah Isgur Flores said in an emailed statement to TPM.

“The Attorney General has now asked the remaining 46 presidentially appointed U.S. Attorneys to tender their resignations in order to ensure a uniform transition,” she continued. “Until the new U.S. Attorneys are confirmed, the dedicated career prosecutors in our U.S. Attorney’s Offices will continue the great work of the Department in investigating, prosecuting, and deterring the most violent offenders.”

Known as a fierce fighter of corruption, Bharara has recently pursued ex-aides to New York’s governor, Andrew Cuomo, on charges stemming from bribery and bid-rigging (they’ve pled not guilty). And recently, prosecutors from his office questioned New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio about whether he traded favors for donations.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously assistant editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at mshuham@talkingpointsmemo.com and on Twitter @mattshuham.

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