Three Democratic senators have written to Attorney General Jeff Sessions demanding to know the circumstances surrounding the firing of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, noting that he was reportedly investigating one member of President Donald Trump's cabinet—and potentially the president himself—when he was dismissed earlier this month.
Sens. Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), Jeff Merkley (Ore.), and Richard Blumenthal (N.J.) signed the letter sent Tuesday, asking bluntly: "Why was Mr. Bharara fired?"
As Common Dreams reported, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York was among the 46 U.S. attorneys who were abruptly asked to resign on Friday, March 10—despite Bharara having being told by Trump during the transition that he would be able to keep his job. When Bharara refused to comply with the Trump administration's request, he was fired, leading Warren to warn the president, "You can't fire the rule of law."
As many pointed out at the time, Bharara's jurisdiction included Trump Tower, and he had been asked just that week by watchdog groups to probe potential violations by Trump of the Constitution's emoluments clause. What's more, Bloomberg noted, he "was involved in a number of sensitive investigations including one involving Deutsche Bank AG, the largest known lender to Trump's businesses, and one of 21st Century Fox Inc., the media conglomerate that is [Sean] Hannity's employer." (Some suggested the attorney purge came at Hannity's suggestion.)
Meanwhile, a ProPublica investigation earlier this month revealed that Bharara was overseeing an investigation into stock trades made by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price—trades that became a matter of contention during Price's confirmation hearing.
The senators cited that ProPublica reporting in their letter to Sessions, saying they "have questions about whether such an investigation had any impact on President Trump's decision to fire Mr. Bharara."
Bharara hinted at such a motivation following his firing, as ProPublica wrote Tuesday:
After his dismissal, Bharara fanned suspicions that the move was politically motivated via his personal Twitter account.
"Now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like," he wrote, referring to a commission that was launched by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo only to be shut down by the governor after its work grew close to his office.
The letter goes on to ask, "Was Mr. Bharara conducting any other investigation of President Trump, his family, or other administration officials at the time he was fired?" And then, the senators inquire:
- If so, what was the nature of these investigations?
- If so, were you aware of this investigation at the time Mr. Bharara was fired?
- Was President Trump aware of these investigations at the time Mr. Bharara was fired?
- Which other White House or DOJ officials were aware of these investigations at the time Mr. Bharara was fired?
The senators ask for Sessions to respond by Monday, April 3.
Rachel Maddow also tackled the topic on Tuesday night's show, saying Bharara was at the "nexus of multiple Trump scandals":