Opinions

Precedent exists for Bharara’s removal

This past week, a man unofficially known as “The Sherriff of Wall Street,” Preet Bharara, was removed from his position as a federal prosecutor. There has been significant outcry in response to this, as liberals have started to refer to his firing as yet another power grab by the newly elected “authoritarian regime” in Washington.

Democratic politicians and left-leaning sects of media lead people to believe that President Donald Trump’s administration is so outwardly corrupt that it is willing to conspicuously hurt democracy by dismissing Bharara. He is regarded as a noble and selfless prosecutor who has gone after unscrupulous politicians and put a stop to the rampant corruption that has plagued Wall Street since its inception.

It is a travesty that the Trump administration would continue on its precedent-breaking path by outrageously going after such an honest public servant.

In reality, this is one of the few areas in which the Trump administration has not deviated from the norm. It is a common occurrence for incoming presidents to ask for the resignation of federal prosecutors, especially if he or she is aligned with a different political party.

This practice has also been followed by democrats, though for the sake of demonizing Trump, they would prefer one to think otherwise. Indeed, President Barack Obama asked for the resignation of President George Bush’s appointees. Before him, President Bill Clinton did the same.

Whether one agrees or disagrees with the policies advocated for by Trump and his staff, it makes sense that he would want the prosecutors working for him to hold similar beliefs and be willing to prosecute and carry out the laws enacted and prioritized by the new administration.

The country saw a prime example of this in the case of former Deputy Attorney General Sally Yates, who refused to protect Trump’s immigration directive. Her political ideologies prevented her from performing her duties so she was subsequently removed from her position.

The same logic applies to Bharara, a holdover from the previous administration, who held conflicting beliefs and interests to the current administration. While Bharara portrays himself as a martyr, he is far from innocent. He was only fired because, unlike many of his colleagues, he refused to resign.

While his stand against a widely despised administration appears noble, it is in fact a blatant political ploy. Federal prosecutors like Bharara are political appointees and, in their own right, politicians. By refusing to step down, he will undoubtedly appeal to many liberals in New York City. Many speculate that his plans include a run for governor of New York State or mayor of New York City.

Nothing reveals his political motivations more than his staged departure, which was characterized by cameras along with applauding crowds and his tweet referencing the Moreland Commission. In his tweet, he not-so-subtly implied that he was fired because of who he was investigating.

A common criticism of this decision is the timing of the firing in relation to Bharara’s investigation into the Trump administration. Before news broke of Bharara’s removal, he had been directly involved with investigations surrounding the Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price.

The cabinet official was being probed for allegedly trading health-related stocks. Given that Trump had indicated the federal prosecutor would remain in his position, it can be argued that Bharara was removed to prevent future “attacks” to Trump’s
White House.

If a government official uses his or her power to evade a fair and warranted investigation or punishment, then that person should certainly face consequences.

Fortunately, The Office of the U.S. Attorneys functions in such a way that Trump’s actions should have no effect on the Price investigation. Current investigations will continue, meaning the cabinet member will still be probed and brought to justice if anything of substance is found.

Trump and Attorney General Jeff Sessions may be planning a change in direction for federal prosecutors. It is very possible, based on what many have already seen from the administration, that white-collar crime may lose its place as the top priority for prosecutors in New York.

While it can be argued that Trump is doing this to prevent further investigation into his own business dealings, it cannot be substantiated yet. If Trump is attempting to cover up illicit behavior, then he should be punished. However, spreading misinformation for political gain about the reasons behind Bharara’s firing is reckless.

March 27, 2017

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