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Top US prosecutor fired after refusing order to quit

Preet Bharara

NEW YORK – High-profile New York prosecutor Preet Bharara – who was among the federal attorneys asked to resign by the White House – said Saturday that he has been fired.

US President Donald Trump’s administration on Friday demanded the resignations of dozens of US prosecutors – including Bharara – appointed during the two terms of his predecessor Barack Obama.

The federal attorney’s firing capped a standoff with the Trump administration that started when Bharara refused the White House order to resign.

“I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired,” Bharara tweeted Saturday using his recently created personal account. “Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.”

The Southern District of New York, the prominent post to which Obama appointed Bharara in 2009, includes the Manhattan and Bronx boroughs as well as neighboring areas just north of the city.

Bharara began working there in the thick of the mortgage crisis, and rose to prominence after overseeing a number of insider trading and public corruption cases.

Time Magazine famously lauded the prosecutor on its cover as the man who is “busting Wall Street.”

Last year, he announced charges against 120 people from rival New York street gangs who were snared in an operation Bharara had said was “believed to be the largest gang takedown in New York City history.”

Presidents often order political appointees from the previous administration to resign when they take office, but the abrupt nature of the move caught some by surprise – especially given that so many were asked to leave at one time.

Trump’s request that Bharara leave came as a particular jolt because the attorney had met with the US President shortly after his November election at Manhattan’s Trump Tower. He told journalists then that Trump asked him to stay on. (AFP)