One of the most high-profile federal prosecutors in the US, Preet Bharara said he was fired after refusing to submit a letter of resignation – an order from attorney general Jeff Sessions.
Bharara tweeted, “I did not resign, Moments ago I was fired.”
According to Bharara, his dismissal was an about-face from the US President Donald Trump’s assurances to the Manhattan-based prosecutor in November, weeks after the election, that he wanted him to stay on the job following a meeting at Trump Tower.
On Friday afternoon, attorney general Jeff Sessions told the prosecutors, nearly all appointed by Barack Obama, that they should resign from their posts. The overhaul of US attorneys is standard practice for a new administration, though some presidents do so in phases. Bharara, 48, met with Trump late last year, however, and told reporters afterwards that he had “agreed to stay on”.
The departure of Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, capped a confusing sequence of events, beginning Friday when acting deputy attorney general Dana Boente began making calls to 46 prosecutors asking for their resignations by the end of the day.