Schumer: Preet Bharara 'will be sorely missed'

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerDemocrats press Trump, GOP for funding for mail-in ballots Schumer doubles down in call for Trump to name coronavirus supply czar Trump lashes out at Schumer over call for supply czar MORE (D-N.Y.) on Saturday lauded former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara after the high-profile federal prosecutor said he was fired earlier in the day.

“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,” Schumer said in a statement. “He will be sorely missed.”

Bharara, who was the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, was ousted after reportedly refusing the Trump administration's request that he resign. He  had previously worked for Schumer as his chief counsel for four years, and Schumer recommended him for the position of U.S. attorney.

ADVERTISEMENT

Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsThe Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention Roy Moore to advise Louisiana pastor arrested for allegedly defying ban on large gatherings Trump campaign demands Sessions stop implying he has president's support MORE had asked 46 U.S. attorneys appointed by former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe Hill's Campaign Report: Coronavirus forces Democrats to postpone convention Biden associates reach out to Holder about VP search Poll: More Republican voters think party is more united than Democratic voters MORE to step down, including Bharara. That came as a surprise, after Bharara said he was previously asked by Trump to stay on after a November meeting.

Schumer had already expressed concern over the administration’s request that Bharara and others resign, saying he was “troubled” by the development and warning that it could interrupt ongoing investigations.

“By asking for the immediate resignation of every remaining U.S. Attorney before their replacements have been confirmed or even nominated, the President is interrupting ongoing cases and investigations and hindering the administration of justice,” Schumer said in a statement on Friday.

It is not unusual for U.S. attorneys to be replaced at the beginning of new presidential administrations.

But after Trump’s electoral victory in November, the then-president-elect reportedly asked Bharara to remain in office. Sessions, who was Trump’s attorney general nominee at the time, requested the same, Bharara told The New York Times.

A spokeswoman for the Justice Department said the decision to have the Obama-appointed U.S. attorneys resign was to “ensure a uniform transition” and noted that “many of the United States Attorneys nominated by the previous administration already have left the Department of Justice."

Bharara said in a statement Saturday that serving as the top prosecutor in Manhattan "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 added.