In a major purge of the Department of Justice, President Trump ordered 46 Obama-era prosecutors to step down as they might prove disloyal to the new administration. Surprisingly, one of the attorneys was fired even though the president had promised to spare him. Is it because U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (pictured center) was probing Fox News at the time of his ouster?
Bharara Takes to Twitter to Voice Frustration
Bharara tweeted Sunday that he knew what the members of the Moreland Commission felt like when Gov. Andrew Cuomo dissolved the panel. The commission was conducting a major investigation into corruption allegations regarding the New York’s political system when the governor decided he no longer required its service. After Cuomo disbanded the panel in 2014, Bharara tried to bring criminal charges against him.
By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 12, 2017
Bharara served as U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York until this weekend when the Trump administration abruptly ended his career along with the professional lives of 45 other fellow prosecutors. He said the administration terminated him after he declined to comply with a resignation order from the Department of Justice.
On Saturday, he tweeted that he did not resign as the media had said, but he was fired. He added that serving as U.S. attorney for the SDNY was the “greatest honor” of his career.
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 DOJ had asked all 46 U.S. attorneys to resign last Friday in a move designed to purge the department from Obama loyalists. Such measures are common practices of new presidents and they usually happen during the transition of power. However, it is the first time the prosecutors see themselves stripped of their job in such an abrupt manner.
Trump Tried to Contact Bharara Before the ‘Purge’
Bharara said he had an encounter with Trump in November when the then-president-elect encouraged him to keep up the good job. Sources say that last week the president broke the White House protocol when he attempted to get in touch with the attorney a day before the DOJ’s resignation order.
The two men did not manage to talk and it remains unclear what Trump wanted from Bharara. It is clear that the attorney’s office was leading a criminal probe into the president favorite news channel FOX News.
Reportedly the prosecutor was looking into claims that the news outlet had mishandled some of its corporate funds and settled multiple sexual agreement suits without briefing the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) first.
More than 10 women had accused the network’s CEO Roger Ailes of sexual advances. Ailes allegedly fired many of them for refusing to give in to him and replaced them with some with more flexible moral standards. He eventually had to step down, but was immediately hired by Trump campaign.
According to Bharara’s office, Fox News paid some of those women millions of dollars to sweep the entire deal under the rug, but it failed to inform the SEC and its investors on the payments, which sparked the investigation.
Ironically, Trump may now appoint a Fox-News-friendly attorney to take Bharara’s position, people briefed on the matter said. It is surprising that Trump, who is permanently outraged at the ‘dishonest media,’ doesn’t allow a lawyer probe a media outlet when there is clear evidence of wrongdoing.
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