An outspoken Manhattan federal prosecutor known for fighting public corruption was fired Saturday afternoon.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara tweeted that he “did not resign” and added, “Moments ago, I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.”
It was previously reported by the Associated Press that Bharara was not complying with Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ request to resign along with other prosecutors appointed by former President Barack Obama.
A person with knowledge of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s actions said earlier Saturday that he was taking President Trump up on his word that he can remain in his post.
The person said Bharara was remaining in his post after receiving assurances last year from Trump and Sessions that they wanted him to stay on. The person wasn’t authorized to comment publicly on the matter and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
Spokespeople for Bharara’s office declined comment after word Friday that Bharara’s name was included on Sessions’ list.
The Justice Department declined comment early Saturday.
The department said Friday that some U.S. attorneys, as in prior transitions, already had left the department. Now, “the Attorney General has now asked the remaining 46 presidentially appointed U.S. Attorneys to tender their resignations,” a spokeswoman said.
“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,” the statement added.
Department of Justice spokesperson Peter Carr told Fox News late Friday night: “The President called Dana Boente and Rod Rosenstein tonight to inform them that he has declined to accept their resignation, and they will remain in their current positions.”
It is customary, though not automatic, for the country’s 93 U.S. attorneys to leave their positions once a new president is in office. Incoming administrations over the past several decades typically have replaced most U.S. attorneys during the first year or two.
The Obama administration allowed political appointees of President George W. Bush to serve until their replacement had been nominated and confirmed. One U.S. attorney appointed by Bush, Rod Rosenstein of Maryland, remained on the job for the entire Obama administration and is the current nominee for deputy attorney general.
But Sessions’ actions are being closely scrutinized by Democrats after a rocky start to the attorney general’s time at the Justice Department.
Weeks after his tight confirmation vote on Feb. 8, it emerged that Sessions had met twice with the Russian ambassador last year — despite testifying during his confirmation hearing he had no communications with the Russians. Sessions later clarified his testimony, while recusing himself from any investigation into Russian influence in the 2016 campaign.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, issued a statement late Friday saying: “I’m surprised to hear that President Trump and Attorney General Sessions have abruptly fired all 46 remaining U.S. attorneys. ”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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