Nation's Most Powerful Prosecutor, Preet Bharara, Fired by Trump

The United States Attorney for New York's Southern District, Preet Bharara, the most powerful prosecutor in the country, was fired by the Trump administration after he refused to resign on Friday.

Bharara tweeted the news on Saturday, March 11th:

The Trump administration, in one fell swoop, wiped out all remaining Obama administration prosecutors at the Justice Department. A total of 46 holdover United States attorneys, including Bharara, was asked to resign immediately. 

Gone... just... like... that....

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York in Manhattan is the nation's oldest and most influential and active federal court owing to the historical breadth of its jurisdiction, which includes Wall Street.

It's also the office that prosecuted -- and continues to prosecute -- the most significant Cosa Nostra cases in the country.

The Trump administration called Bharara Thursday but the prosecutor didn't return that early phone call -- for very specific reasons: there are protocols that govern direct contact between a president and federal prosecutor. As per these protocols, "Bharara notified an adviser to the attorney general, Jeff Sessions, that the president had tried to contact him and that he would not respond because of those protocols. Mr. Bharara then called Mr. Trump’s assistant back to say he could not speak with the president, citing the protocols," as The New York Times noted.

Until very recently it seemed the odds were in favor of President Trump asking Bharara to stay on as U.S. Attorney for New York's Southern District.

Last November, Bharara met with President Elect Trump to express
interest in staying on as U.S. Attorney for NY's Southern District.

Only last November, Bharara visited Trump Tower in Manhattan to meet with the President-elect (and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions). Trump asked Bharara about remaining on the job with the new administration, and Bharara expressed strong interest staying with the Southern District.

Sarah Isgur Flores, a Justice Department spokeswoman, announced in an email that all holdover U.S. Attorneys had been asked to resign. Their immediate replacements are their deputy U.S. attorneys, career officials who assume the role in an acting capacity.

Since February, Trump has expressed his anger about leaked information (as well as allegations that his phones had been tapped). His allies in the private sector also have called for the ousting of President Barack Obama’s holdovers.

Still, according to the Times report, the firings "came the same week that government watchdogs wrote to Mr. Bharara and urged him to investigate whether Mr. Trump had violated the emoluments clause of the Constitution, which bars federal officials from taking payments from foreign governments."

The Clinton administration sought the resignations of 93 United States attorneys soon after he took office in 1993. He too was cleaning out Bush holdovers (meaning, the first President Bush, the one-termer who formerly headed up the CIA. George Bush actually headed up a lot of things -- having been appointed to the positions.)

The George W. Bush administration fired several top prosecutors midway through the second term, which did cause him some dings in the media (I am pulling out my crystal ball to see that, hmm, the timing probably was why...)

What distinguishes the Trump administration's ordered resignations is the abruptness. While other presidents sought to minimize the potential for disorder resulting from the wave of resignations, this apparently was less of an issue with The Donald.

Bharara has been one of the most high-profile United States attorneys ever to preside over "the Sovereign District of New York," as the Southern District has been nicknamed due to its notorious independence streak and capable ability to commandeer cases from other districts.

It's also known as the "Mother Ship."

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While Bharara's acting deputy takes over, his dismissal creates the perception that some important mob cases have been left dangling. New York Senator Charles Schumer said in a statement Friday that he was "troubled to learn" about the forced resignations, especially of Bharara. President Trump was "interrupting ongoing cases and investigations and hindering the administration of justice," Schumer said.

Bharara had such a broad mandate in his post, he was able to build a strong name and reputation for himself chasing crooked financiers and corrupt elected officials on both sides of the aisle. In fact, some mainstream newspapers have not even noted his work fighting the Mafia. 

Some of Bharara's major Mafia cases include the August 2016 arrests of 46 mobsters in what the Fed's dubbed the "East Coast LCN Enterprise" case, aka the United States of America V. Pasquale Parrello, et al.

Bharara also indicted the alleged killers of Luchese associate Michael Meldish, who was shot to death in 2013. Only last week, Gang Land News reported: Bharara "dramatically raised the stakes for (the) two accused Luchese crime family gangsters who had been awaiting trial in the Bronx for 21 months on state murder charges" for the murder of Meldish, who formerly helmed New York's notorious Purple Gang. Specifically, Bharara "upped the worst case scenario for (Luchese wiseguy Christopher Londonio and mob associate Terrence Caldwell)... from a maximum sentence of life behind bars to the death penalty."

Furthermore, it was reported that imprisoned Luchese chieftain Mathew (Matty) Madonna is (was?) poised to be indicted for his alleged role in the murder. Madonna, for years, was rumored to have originated the order to kill Meldish for "disrespecting" the notorious Luchese mobster who once ran drugs into Harlem for kingpin trafficker Nicky Barnes.
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Still, Jerry Capeci will probably weigh in with a mixed verdict, as Bharara has at times been somewhat overzealous, let's say, with regard to some cases that amounted to -- well, whatever you'd call the legal equivalent of a trainwreck.

What will the chief mob scribe say about Bharara?

Last December, GLN awarded U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara with the Joe Paterno Award "for following in the tradition of the disgraced late Penn State football coach who concealed an assistant coach's sexual proclivities for years."

"The award is for refusing to disclose the status of a convicted pervert who pleaded guilty to soliciting sex with a minor in 2008 who became a cooperating witness for his office in a less than stunning prosecution of 29 mob-connected defendants on labor racketeering charges in the waste hauling business. 
"Less than stunning because Preet's prosecutors dismissed all charges against 10 of the 29 defendants."

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On May 15, 2009, President Barack Obama nominated Preet Bharara to become the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.The nomination was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on August 7, 2009, and he was sworn in on August 13, 2009.

Among his predecessors are former mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, Secretary of War Henry Stimson and Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter. The Washington Post reported that Bharara’s mentors are known to be SEC Commissioner Mary Jo White and FBI Director James B. Comey.

The WaPo noted that "even in that company Bharara has shone, winning a series of dramatic convictions that he announces to the public with a delivery that is one part righteous lawman and one part nervy wit fueled by Diet Cokes and Doritos. Imagine, Comey says, 'if Jon Stewart was a prosecutor.'"