Monday, March 13, 2017

Top federal prosecutor Preet Bharara fired after refusing to quit job

U.S. Attorney PRreet Bharara, AKA the Sheriff of Wall Street.

PREET BHARARA was fired after refusing to quit his job as federal prosecutor by the Trump administration. Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked 46 federal prosecutors to submit their resignations. 

The Economic Times reports the Indian/American U.S. Attorney was nicknamed the “Sheriff of Wall Street” for prosecuting more than 100 finance executives for criminal activities, such as insider trading and for prosecuting several New York politicians for corruption. 

Bharara was appointed by former President Barack Obama. He was born in Ferozepur, India, in 1968. His family moved to the United States when he was 2, and he was raised along the New Jersey shore in Monmouth County.

On Friday, many media outlets reported Bharara had been asked to submit his resignation. This came as a surprise to many because Bharara had talked with President Trump about staying on as a federal prosecutor or US district attorney. Senior Democratic Party Senator Chuck Schumer reportedly recommended Trump to keep Bharara.

RELATED: The whitewashing of Preet Bharara
The Hill reports there might be connections to Bharara’s firing and investigations into President Trump. Last week, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, a watchdog group, asked Bharara to investigate President Trump for foreign business deals, in regards to whether he had gotten benefits from foreign governments.

If Bharara were to find evidence of this, President Trump would be in violation of the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution, which prohibits U.S. officials from taking any money, including gifts and payments for services rendered, from foreign states without the consent of the Congress, the Washington Post reports.

The New York Times reports that Bharara’s office is overseeing an investigation into whether Fox News failed to alert shareholders of settlements with female employees who had accused Roger Ailes, Fox New’s former chief, of sexual harassment.

In addition, two of the cases in the past that was Bharara handled increases speculation about Trump's past Russian connections.

Case 1: Under Bharara's leadership in 2010, the Southern District of New York's federal prosecutor's office brought terrorism charges against Victor Bout, a former Soviet air force officer dubbed the "Merchant of Death," who was accused of trafficking arms to dictators and conflict zones in Africa, South America and the Middle East throughout the 1990's and early 2000's, according to Reuters. He was convicted in November 2011. 

Case 2: On April 16, 2013, Mother Jones reminds us that federal agents rounded up 29 suspected members of two global gambling rings with operations allegedly overseen by a supposed Russian mob boss named Alimzhan Tokhtakhounov. The Russian was not nabbed by US law enforcement. Since being indicted in the United States a decade earlier for allegedly rigging an ice skating competition at the 2002 Olympics, he had been living in Russia, beyond the reach of Western authorities. What is interesting is that the high-stakes gambling ring was operating one floor below Trump's apartment in Trump Tower in New York City. Trump later that same year had 
Tokhtakhounov as one of his VIP guests when the Miss Universe contest was held in Moscow.

Bharara announced that Joon H. Kim, the current deputy U.S. attorney, will serve in his place until a permanent replacement is named. 

In a statement released the day after he was fired, Bharara said that "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." (Views From the Edge contributed to this report.)