Fired US Attorney Preet Bharara longs for days when people were brave enough to stand up to a president
Former U.S. Attorney fired by President Donald Trump despite assurances his services would be retained. Now he has penned an op-ed in The Washington Post that illustrates his fear of cowards unwilling to stand up to the president.
Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara attended meetings at Trump Tower shortly after the 2016 election and as assured he would keep his job covering the Southern District of New York. Bharara revealed that he considered the also fired former FBI director James Comey a friend. Today marked the anniversary Comey testified against a former secret terrorist surveillance program under the George W. Bush administration. Comey fought back against the program and against former President Bush.
“I am proud to know a man who had the courage to say no to a president,” Bharara wrote Sunday. “And in the tumult of this time, the question whose answer we should perhaps fear the most is the one evoked by that showdown: Are there still public servants who are prepared to say no to the president?”
The firing reminded him of the sacking of eight of Bush’s own Justice Department officials in 2007.
“When the actions became public, people suspected political interference and obstruction,” Bharara recalled. “Democrats were the most vocal, but some Republicans asked questions, too. The uproar intensified as it became clear that the initial explanations were mere pretext, and the White House couldn’t keep its story straight. Public confidence ebbed, and Congress began to investigate.”
His account reads like a recounting of the past week, not a time over a decade ago. At that time the Senate launched a bipartisan investigation, something that hardly seems feasible in today’s hyper-partisan environment.
“Then-deputy attorney general … looked senators in the eye and said the U.S. attorneys were fired for cause; although such appointees certainly serve at will, this assertion turned out to be demonstrably false,” Bharara wrote. “We learned that the U.S. attorney in New Mexico, David C. Iglesias, was fired soon after receiving an improper call from Republican Sen. Pete V. Domenici pushing him to bring political corruption cases before the election.”
Bharara described the last few weeks as like having déjà vu. After the incident, strict protocols were put in place to ensure the White House was limited in its contact with Justice Department officials when it came to criminal matters.
“To restore faith in the rule of law, three obvious things must happen: First, we need a truly bipartisan investigation in Congress,” he continued. “That means no partisan nonsense — just a commitment to finding the facts, whatever they may be, proving (or disproving) Russian interference in our election and anything related.”
His second is that a new FBI director must be appointed that is apolitical and serves law-enforcement and not loyalty to a president, even Donald Trump. Finally, he wants to see a special counsel to oversee the Russia investigation instead of partisan officials or staff accountable to the president.
“History will judge this moment. It’s not too late to get it right, and justice demands it,” he closed.