The most prominent U.S. attorney in the nation, Preet Bharara, announced Saturday that he was “fired” after he did not resign.
“I did not resign,” Preet Bharara, who was U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, tweeted Saturday afternoon. “Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.”
I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 11, 2017
Bharara’s tweet came close to 24 hours after the U.S. Department of Justice on Friday asked all U.S. attorneys remaining as holdovers from the Obama administration to step down.
By Friday night, many who had been asked to leave — including the U.S. attorneys in New Jersey, Rhode Island, Minnesota and Arkansas — had publicly announced their departure.
But Bharara, who had said in November that President Trump had asked him to stay on, had still not resigned as of midday Saturday.
It is not unusual for U.S. attorneys, who are appointed by presidents, to be asked to resign when a new president takes office, especially when there is a change of party at the White House.
Bharara said after meeting with then-President-elect Trump in November that he had been asked to remain in his post.
“The president-elect asked, presumably because he’s a New Yorker and is aware of the great work that our office has done over the past seven years, asked to meet with me to discuss whether or not I’d be prepared to stay on as the United States attorney to do the work as we have done it, independently, without fear or favor for the last seven years,” Bharara told reporters after meeting with Trump at Trump Tower on Nov. 30. “I have already spoken to Sen. Sessions, who is as you know is the nominee to be the attorney general. He also asked that I stay on, and so I expect that I will be continuing to work at the Southern District.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, said in a statement Friday that he was “troubled” to learn of the resignation requests, especially for Bharara.
“I’m troubled to learn of reports of requests for resignations from the remaining U.S. attorneys, particularly that of Preet Bharara, after the president initiated a call to me in November and assured me he wanted Mr. Bharara to continue to serve as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District,” Schumer said in the statement Friday.
The Justice Department has 93 U.S. attorneys covering 94 districts. About half of those from the Obama administration had already resigned before Friday, leaving 46 still in place.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked Friday for the prompt resignations of the 46 U.S. attorneys who remain from President Obama’s administration.
On Friday night, President Trump called two of them — Dana Boente and Rod Rosenstein — to inform them he has declined to accept their resignations, a senior administration official told ABC News.
Boente is the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia and the acting U.S. deputy attorney general. Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney for the District of Maryland, is Trump’s nominee for deputy attorney general.
“As was the case in prior transitions, many of the United States attorneys nominated by the previous administration already have left the Department of Justice,” agency spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement Friday. “The attorney general has now asked the remaining 46 presidentially appointed U.S. attorneys to tender their resignations in order to ensure a uniform transition.”
Until new U.S. attorneys are confirmed, Flores said career prosecutors in the 94 districts will continue overseeing cases. The Trump administration has not yet nominated any new U.S. attorneys.
ABC News’ Aaron Katersky, Jack Date, Benjamin Siegel and Pierre Thomas contributed to this report. The Associated Press also contributed to this report