On Sunday, Representative Elijah Cummings suggested that President Donald Trump’s move this weekend to fire U.S. attorney Preet Bharara was motivated by a desire to avoid a corruption investigation.
On Friday, Trump asked asked 46 U.S. attorneys who had been appointed by President Barack Obama to resign. While it’s not unusual for new presidents to want to fill these positions with their own people, the sudden nature of the move was surprising. What’s more, Bharara refused to resign, forcing Trump to fire him instead, as he explained on Twitter:
“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.”
This was especially surprising because, in November, Trump had said that he wanted to keep Bharara on.
Maybe not so coincidentally, in 2013 Bharara earned a lifetime ban from entering Russia over investigations into the country’s alleged organized crime.
“Just not very long ago, the president was saying that he was going to keep the U.S. attorney there in New York. And then, suddenly, he’s, I guess, changed his mind. I’m just curious as to why that is,” Cummings said. “And certainly, there’s a lot of questions coming up as to whether Mr. Trump is – President Trump is concerned about the jurisdiction of this U.S. attorney and whether that might affect his future.”
Cummings added that he believed there was a connection between Bharara’s firing and the fact that an ethics watchdogs group had recently asked Bharara to investigate the president.
“When they asked about emoluments clause and possible violations of it and the U.S. attorney’s relationship to that, I think perhaps that had perhaps something to do with it,” Cummings said.