Schumer 'Disappointed' After U.S. Attorney Bharara Removed From Office
NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara seemed to express his displeasure over his dismissal on Twitter Sunday.
Bharara tweeted out "By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like."
As CBS2's Brian Conybeare reports, the Moreland Commission was an anti-corruption panel put in place by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013 and abruptly shut down by his office after a deal on ethics reform was passed in 2014.
Bharara's office investigated allegations Cuomo's team tampered with Moreland Commission probes, but eventually cleared them of breaking any federal laws.
New York Sen. Chuck Schumer said he was "caught off guard" after Bharara, known for crusading against public corruption, was forced out of office Saturday.
"I was extremely surprised and disappointed," Schumer said.
Bharara made the announcement in a tweet Saturday afternoon.
"I did not resign," the federal prosecutor said. "Moments ago I was fired."
A person with knowledge of Bharara's actions said earlier Saturday he would not comply with Attorney General Jeff Sessions' request to resign along with other prosecutors appointed by former President Barack Obama.
Bharara, 48, was asked by then-President-elect Donald Trump to remain as U.S. attorney in Manhattan during a November meeting at Trump Tower.
"The president's decision to change his mind and fire Preet says far more about the president than it does about Preet," Schumer said.
Schumer would not speculate on why Bharara, who previously served as Schumer's general counsel, was fired.
"He did an amazing job in so many different areas," Schumer said. "He will be sorely missed."
Schumer said he thought the way 46 U.S. Attorneys were asked to leave their offices was unusual for a new president because they had to clear out immediately, without regard for ongoing casework.
"They have rarely told them have your stuff cleared out by Friday," Schumer said.
Republican Senator from Arizona John McCain defended the president's decision to ask Bharara and 45 other U.S. Attorneys to resign Sunday.
"Well I don't know what the promise was to Mr. Bharara," McCain said on CNN's State of the Union, "but I do know that other administrations have done the same thing."
In the past, some U.S Attorneys have been allowed to stay on to complete major cases.
Sources told CBS2 that Trump, frustrated by leaks that he believed were hurting his administration, decided to get rid of the 46 holdover U.S. attorneys from around the country who were appointed by former President Barack Obama. That included Bharara, even with his hard-won reputation for independence.
Neither the White House nor Governor Cuomo's office have commented on Bharara's tweet from earlier.
This weekend's developments come as bipartisan Senate leaders press the Department of Justice to back up the president's recent claim that former President Obama had the phones at Trump Tower "wiretapped" during last year's presidential election.
The Senators have given the DOJ until Monday to turn over any evidence of the wiretapping.
Bharara's departure leaves a lot of unfinished business, including the high-profile pay-to-play investigation of Mayor Bill de Blasio and his aides. The probe appeared to be in its final stages after de Blasio was interviewed two weeks ago for more than four hours.
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