It's not easy to get Preet Bharara down. When he drew ire for being insufficiently hostile to Wall Street, the prosecutor earned himself a bulldog reputation in pursuing insider trading. When the Supreme Court threw a banana peel in front of that crusade, he spit fire and soldiered on. After the election, Bharara even managed to forge a deal in Trump Tower allowing him to stay on, presumably to facilitate the continued draining of swamps in Albany and City Hall. It wouldn't be hard to conclude that nobody fucks with Preet Bharara.
That is, until the Trump administration announced last weekend the summary firing of 46 U.S. attorneys, including the golden boy of the Southern District of New York. Though the move wasn't unusual for a new president, Bharara's dismissal came as a surprise given the prior gentlemen's agreement and the fact that Trump reportedly had “a very high regard” for him. But even after being relieved of his duties, Preet Bharara has proven that Preet Bharara will continue to do what Preet Bharara does best: generate headlines about Preet Bharara.
After it became clear Friday that Bharara had dug in his heels, the question became how long it would take for Trump to do that thing that made him famous on reality TV to the recalcitrant prosecutor. Bharara answered that question in a decidedly Trump-like way: on Twitter.
It later came out that Bharara's office had declined to take a call from the White House on Thursday due to “protocols governing a president's direct contact with federal prosecutors,” as the New York Times reported. It's unclear whether the call was innocuous or otherwise (the White House has said that it was “to wish him luck”). Whatever the intention, it's evident there's now some bad blood between the White House and Bharara.
The White House appears to be unhappy with Mr. Bharara’s handling of the situation. In reference to Mr. Bharara’s ouster, the White House aide said: “The U.S. attorneys are political appointees, and all 46 of the holdovers from the Obama administration received the same resignation letter. It’s fair to say that 45 of the 46 behaved in a manner befitting the office.” The aide added: “As much as Preet wants everything to be about Preet, everyone was treated the same way.”
In his first non-Twitter public comment since the firing, Bharara stayed courageously on-brand:
Mr. Bharara, in response to the White House’s comments, said: “It was my understanding that the president himself has said anonymous sources are not to be believed.”
As more than one outlet has reported, the firing won't affect Bharara's various ongoing probes, including those focused on Bill de Blasio and the statehouse. On that front, Bharara offered up a salty enigma on Twitter referencing his investigation into Andrew Cuomo's abrupt closing of the ill-fated Moreland ethics commission.
What does it all mean? Did Preet have dirt on Cuomo? Was he building a case against Trump? Is he going to run for office? Who will rap Wall Street's knuckles now? The only certainty is that Preet Bharara will go on being Preet Bharara.
UPDATE: Also, this happened: