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Indian-American attorney Preet Bharara sacked by Trump administration after he refused to quit

High-profile Indian-American attorney Preet Bharara, who was among 46 attorneys asked to resigned by Donald Trump administration, was sacked on Saturday.
India TV News Desk Washington March 12, 2017 6:28 IST
India TV News Desk

High-profile Indian-American attorney Preet Bharara, who was among 46 attorneys asked to resigned by Donald Trump administration, was sacked on Saturday. 

Bharara, the Manhattan federal prosecutor who was asked by President Trump to remain in his post shortly after the election, was fired after he refused an order to submit his resignation.

"I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honour of my professional life," Bharara tweeted.

Bharara, the US Attorney General for Southern District of New York, and 45 other federal prosecutors, who were appointed by former President Barack Obama, were told on Friday by Attorney General Jeff Sessions to submit their resignations.

In a statement later, he said: "Serving my country as U.S. Attorney here for the past seven years will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life, no matter what else I do or how long I live. One hallmark of justice is absolute independence, and that was my touchstone every day that I served."

He said current Deputy U.S. Attorney Joon H. Kim will serve as acting U.S. attorney.

The Justice Department late Saturday confirmed Bharara was no longer U.S. attorney but declined to expound.

In all there are 93 US attorneys and many of them have already left their positions. But 46 attorneys who stayed on in the first weeks of the Trump administration had been asked by Attorney General to resign "in order to ensure a uniform transition," Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said on Friday. 

Bharara met Trump November 30, saying afterward he'd been asked to remain in the job. Bharara, once lauded on the cover of Time magazine as the man who is "busting Wall Street" after successfully prosecuting dozens of insider traders, has in recent years gone after over a dozen state officeholders, — including New York's two most powerful lawmakers.

Before the firing, one of New York's top elected Republicans voiced support for Bharara.

"Good for Preet, he is doing the job he was appointed to do!" Assemblyman Brian M. Kolb, the State Assembly minority leader, wrote on Twitter.

Nicknamed the "Sheriff of Wall Street", Bharara's jurisdiction covered New York's financial district putting him in the limelight as he prosecuted more than 100 finance executives for criminal activities like stock trading irregularities using insider information.

48-year-old Bharara made a national and international mark for himself with many high-profile cases and investigations including foreign countries, insider trading and those involving US politicians. 

They included several Indians like Rajat Gupta, the former head of the consulting company McKinsey and a Goldman Sachs director, who served two years in jail for colluding with the Sri Lankan-American hedge fund operator Raj Rajaratnam in a stock market scam using insider information.

Even though Bharara could be reappointed, his inclusion in the list of all the other Obama appointees came as a surprise because after a meeting with Trump in November he told reporters that he had been asked to stay on as federal prosecutor or US district attorney.