Sessions calls for the resignation of 46 U.S. Obama-era prosecutors

© Reuters. US-US-TRUMP JUSTICE AUDITORS

By Joel Schectman and Mark Hosenball

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions abruptly asked the Obama administration’s 46 remaining top federal prosecutors to resign on Friday, including Manhattan Attorney Preet Bharara, whom the then-president-elect had called on. to stay in November. Donald Trump.

Although US prosecutors are political appointees and Trump’s Justice Department request is part of a routine process, the move came as a surprise. Not all new administrations replace all US prosecutors at once.

A Justice Department spokeswoman confirmed that the resignation requests included Bharara, whose office handles some of the most critical business and criminal cases to pass through the federal court system.

Bharara met with Trump at the Trump Tower on November 30. Afterward, Bharara told reporters that the two had a “good meeting” and that he had agreed to stay.

On Friday, Bharara wasn’t sure where he was standing because he didn’t know if the person who contacted him to resign knew that Trump had asked him to remain in office, according to a source familiar with the matter.

It was not immediately clear if all the resignations would eventually be accepted.

A Justice Department spokesman said Friday that Trump had called Dana Boente, the acting deputy attorney general of the United States, to reject his resignation.

Trump also called Maryland federal prosecutor Rod Rosenstein, his choice to take over as deputy attorney general, to keep him in his post, the spokesman said.

CRUSADER OF CORRUPTION

Bharara, appointed by Democratic President Barack Obama in 2009, has waged an aggressive anti-corruption effort in state and municipal politics and is known for his prosecution of white-collar criminal cases. He’s also been overseeing a federal investigation into New York Mayor Bill de Blasio’s fundraiser.

In November, he announced charges against two defendants in connection with what he called multi-million dollar fraud and a bribery scheme at Valeant Pharmaceuticals (NYSE 🙂 International Inc (TO :).

He has also filed dozens of successful cases against insider traders, including a $ 1.8 billion settlement and a plea settlement in 2013 with hedge fund SAC Capital Advisors LP.

His office has secured deals with companies such as General Motors Co (N 🙂 and JPMorgan Chase & Co (N :); won multiple convictions and guilty pleas from former employees of Ponzi scheme operator Bernard Madoff; and prosecuted Suleiman Abu Ghaith, son-in-law of the late al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Bharara’s priorities have often coincided with those set by Obama’s Justice Department, potentially putting him at odds with the Trump administration.

Amid a surge in civil rights investigations nationwide, for example, Bharara’s office joined a lawsuit that led to a 2015 settlement aimed at reducing violence at the Rikers Island prison complex in the city of New York.

US Senator Chuck Schumer, a Democrat, said in a statement that he was “concerned” upon learning of the resignation requests, “particularly that of Preet Bharara.”

As Schumer’s lead attorney, Bharara helped lead the investigation into the 2006 firings of US prosecutors during the George W. Bush administration.

Robert Capers, a federal prosecutor in Brooklyn, released a statement saying he had been asked to resign. He said Bridget Rohde, the assistant federal prosecutor in that office, will take on her role as an actor.

The Justice Department said Friday: “Until the new United States prosecutors are confirmed, the dedicated career prosecutors in the United States attorney’s offices will continue the great work of the department in investigation, prosecution and prosecution. deterrence of the most violent offenders “.