March 12, 2017
Several left-wing figures and campaign veterans questioned whether there was more to the firing of Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, while people on the right argued the outcry was overblown.
Bharara was fired on Saturday after refusing to tender his resignation per a Friday request from the Justice Department. Some media outlets and left-wing figures questioned the move, as Bharara was charged with investigating New York legislators and Wall Street firms, and that Trump supposedly asked Bharara to stay on back in November after he won the election.
“If Preet wasn’t investigating Trump in any way, this will all blow over quickly,” tweeted Matthew Miller, former spokesman for the Justice Department and Democrat Senatorial Campaign Committee. “If he was, hang on to your hats.”
Others had questions about the dismissal, noting that Bharara claimed back in November that he was asked by Trump to stay on.
“It’d be odd for Preet to refuse to resign merely out of pique that he wasn’t being kept on after all,” tweeted former Hillary Clinton spokesman Brian Fallon. “Feels like there is more to this story.”
Several media figures also questioned if there was more beyond the firing.
“Given @PreetBharara’s investigative portfolio, it’s fair to ask whether someone called in a favor to get him fired,” tweeted Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler. “More Qs for the [White House].”
Others questioned the way that the firing and the mass dismissal of more than 40 attorneys on Friday were handled after Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, chose to stagger how his administration asked U.S. attorneys to resign during his first term.
“Yes, presidents can and do typically replace many or most [U.S. attorneys] over their term,” tweeted New York Times reporter Nick Confessore. “No, this isn’t how it’s usually done.”
Democrat politicians said that the way it was handled was poor.
“President Trump’s abrupt and unexplained decision to summarily remove over 40 U.S. attorneys has once again caused chaos in the federal government and led to questions about whether the Justice Department’s vital and non-partisan work will continue under Attorney General Sessions as it must,” said New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman.
But figures on the Right pushed back that there was anything unusual about Bharara’s dismissal or the call for the attorney firings.
“Breathless reporters ‘shocked’ @POTUS fired Schumer ally as NY US Atty. Really? Arrogant Bharara won’t resign as asked; gets fired – moved on!” tweeted former Arkansas Gov. and presidential candidate Mike Huckabee.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer put out a statement thanking Bharara for his service.
“Preet Bharara has been an exemplary U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York,” Schumer said. “His relentless drive to root out public corruption, lock up terrorists, take on Wall Street, and stand up for what is right should serve as a model for all U.S. attorneys across the country. He will be sorely missed.”
Bharara was a former chief of staff to Schumer. There has been speculation that Bharara is setting himself up for a run for N.Y. governor.
“The ‘old way’ of doing things was shattered in campaign 2016 so why [should] this be any different?” tweeted right-wing media personality Laura Ingraham.
Jay Caruso, assistant managing editor of Red State, tweeted two competing headlines from Politico, one from 2009 when Obama replaced U.S. attorneys and another from Friday.
“Trump ‘ousts’ U.S. Attorneys. Obama ‘replaces’ them” he tweeted.