U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has been asked to resign, along with 45 other prosecutors, as part of a nationwide purge of the Justice Department. But whether the hard-charging federal prosecutor will step down is unclear.
There are some unknowns here: Bharara hasn't commented. He, and us all, were under the impression that Donald Trump wanted him to stay on in his job.
In November, Bharara met with then President-elect Trump at his transition office in Trump Tower.
Bharara came down and said the president himself asked him to stay, and the U.S. attorney agreed.
"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 me to discuss whether or not I would be prepared to stay on as United States attorney; to do the work as we have done it: independently, without fear or favor for the last seven years," Bharara said.
It's common for presidents of both parties to look for new federal prosecutors. Bharara is one of 46 federal prosecutors asked to step down; the one in Brooklyn, Robert Capers, is leaving.
Bharara is a former top aide to New York Sen. Charles Schumer. Schumer put out a statement saying that he is troubled by the requests.
The senate minority leader also said Trump called him in November and assured him that he wanted Bharara to stay on.
NY1 is told that since Bharara was told he would resign, there had not been communication between his office and Washington.
There are some possibilities here. One is that Bharara does not get any special treatment and he is out and he just had not accepted it yet.
Another possibility is that Bharara stays because sometime soon he is asked to re-apply for his position, or the president does not accept his resignation if it is offered. Two U.S. attorneys are being told that their resignations would not be accepted. One has been nominated for a top Justice Department position, and the other is in that spot now.
A third possibility for Bharara is that he dangles for a bit. It is possible that Bharara is something of a pawn in a battle between the Trump and Schumer. The president may be threatening to fire Bharara to get Schumer to speed up approvals of his nominees.
Separately, Bharara's office is in the middle of investigating the de Blasio administration amid allegations of special favors for donors. City Hall declined to comment on Bharara's fate.