Democrats jumped on President Donald Trump for firing Preet Bharara, the former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, but two prominent New York Democrats refuse to say anything about the dismissal.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio have not joined the pile-on, likely because of the high-profile corruption investigations Bharara was engaged in that involved both officials.
By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 12, 2017
Bharara referenced his investigation regarding the dismissal of the commission that probed corruption in New York state government, that was formed by Gov. Cuomo in 2013 and later shut down by him in 2014 after an ethics reform package passed in Albany.
Bharara’s office looked into allegations that Cuomo’s people meddled with Moreland Commission investigations. Cuomo and his team were eventually cleared of any wrongdoing in 2016. More recently, Bharara brought corruption charges against a former Cuomo top aide, Joseph Percoco, and several associates of Cuomo’s. Percoco has pled not guilty.
When Cuomo was asked about Bharara during a press call, his aide interjected the governor would only take questions on the impending snowstorm about to hit Empire State.
Bharara, best known for taking down former Democrat and Republican leaders in Albany, Sheldon Silver and Dean Skelos, was in the middle of wrapping up his investigation on the mayor and his team’s fundraising tactics.
De Blasio praised another departing U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn on Monday, The Daily News reported, but when asked about Bharara, he stated, “I’m just not going to comment. There’s an ongoing investigation going on. I’m not going to comment on any of that.”
Like presidents before him, Trump called on 46 federal prosecutors appointed by his predecessor to resign. Only two U.S. attorneys were allowed to stay on temporarily.
Bharara previously met with Trump in December and was told by the president-elect he wanted to keep him at his post. However, according to reports, Trump attempted to contact the New York U.S. attorney without success before Attorney General Sessions put out the order for Bharara and the other U.S. Attorneys to resign. Bharara refused to do so and was fired by Trump last weekend.
New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman chided the move saying Saturday in a statement, “Preet Bharara, like many of the U.S. Attorneys dismissed this week, served with honor and distinction. His integrity, tenacity, and commitment to rooting out wrongdoing — whether in the boardroom, the halls of government, or anywhere else — will be sorely missed.”
Schneiderman added, “President Trump’s abrupt and unexplained decision to summarily remove over 40 U.S. Attorneys has once again caused chaos in the federal government and led to questions about the Justice Department’s vital and non-partisan work will continue under Attorney General Sessions, as it must.”
Senate Minority Leader and New York Democrat Chuck Schumer said he was “extremely surprised and disappointed” at the dismissal of Bharara, his former chief counsel.