Preet Bharara, until recently the United States Attorney’ for the Southern District of New York, was known as an aggressive, fearless, skilled prosecutor. He was also increasingly a partisan one, as his felony prosecution of Dinesh D’Souza, a vocal conservative critic of President Obama, showed. Despite the ridiculous and dishonest criticism of President Trump for firing Baharara, if there has ever been a President with good cause not to trust holdovers from the previous administration, it is Donald Trump.
The last Holder/Lynch Justice Department employee he trusted was Sally Yates, and she breached her ethical and professional duties by going rogue, and not just rogue, but partisan rogue. Baharara,who referred to himself as a “completely independent” prosecutor, was such a good bet to go rogue that it would have been negligent for Trump not to fire him. Democrats in and out of government are suddenly dedicated to defying and bringing down our governmental institutions, notable the Presidency. They can’t be trusted. Even if it wasn’t the usual course to sack the previous administration’s US Attorneys—though it is— there was every reason for this President to sack these prosecutors.
And, nicely enough, Bharara proved that Trump was right by grandstanding on his way out the door.
Asked to resign along with his colleagues, Bharara refused, and Trump fired him Glenn Reynolds calls the refusal to resign childish, but it was more that. It was a breach of professional ethics, and akin to Yates’ stunt. Bharara is a government lawyer, meaning that he represents the government’s interests as his supervisors define them. If he doesn’t like their priorities, his option is to resign—not defy them until he is fired, but resign. United States Attorneys “serve at the pleasure of the President” and that’s a term of art. The prosecution of crimes, including the decision regarding which crimes to prosecute and which crimes not to prosecute, is made at the discretion of the Executive Branch, which is headed by the President. If, for example, Bharara felt that Obama’s executive order declaring that illegal immigrants who hadn’t committed serious crimes were henceforth to be treated as if they were legal immigrants rather than illegal ones was unconstitutional, which it is, his option would have been to resign, not give a press conference, a la Yates, declaring his opposition to the new policy.
If the President had read that a US. Attorney crows about his independence and happily signed on to a dubious partisan order like that one, he had a perfectly justifiable reason to question whether he could count on this Preet Bharara. Lawyers typically don’t get to refuse to leave when their client wants a new lawyer. Doing so is a breach of duty under the ethics of the attorney-client relationship. Nevertheless, Bharara did refuse, intentionally trying to undermine his client’s duly elected spokesman for purely political purposes.
Writes CNN’s (incompetent and legal ethics ignorant) legal analyst Danny Cevallos—what a hack!—writes,
It’s a clever chess move by Bharara: force the firing, make the administration look like the tyrants. It’s not like it hurts Bharara; this is one legal luminary whose job prospects will not be harmed by being “fired” from his last job. As CNN Legal Analyst Paul Callan observed, former US attorneys from this district have even ascended to the New York City mayor’s office after their tenure.The problem is this: because of the massive power US attorneys have over every aspect of our lives, these forced resignations are particularly suspect if they appear motivated by improper political purposes.
Unethical conduct is a “clever chess move,” is it? Has this guy (Cevallos or Bharara) ever cracked the Rules of Professional conduct? A lawyer cannot set out to cast suspicion on a client, for any reason. This is clever to Cevallos because, again, the usual ethics rules don’t matter when Donald Trump is the target.
And, of course, THIS is CNN…
Bharara’s comment after forcing the President to fire him was “Now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like.” The Moreland Commission was an investigation into political corruption in New York that was infamously dissolved when it got too close to some powerful figures. This comment was a nakedly political and unconscionable dog-whistle to the anti-Trump press: Bharara’s removal by a President from the opposition party must mean that he was about to find dirt on Republicans or Trump.
It’s unethical to impugn a client while leaving a representation. As former federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy writes, “Preet well knows…prosecutors are not supposed to suggest publicly misconduct they are unprepared formally to charge and prove.” “Not supposed” means “are prohibited from doing so under professional conduct rules.”
Concludes Reynolds, reaching the result I did (but I’m typing this in a hotel on my blasted netbook, and it’s easier for me to let the professor say it than for me to type it):
Bharara’s refusal to resign wasn’t about principle. It was about putting himself publicly on the side of anti-Trump Democrats, no doubt in the expectation of future rewards, political or professional. It was not a brave act. It was, in fact, a species of corruption.
A prosecutor so willing to disrespect the constitutional chain of command for petty personal reasons is one who’s not fit to wield the enormous power that federal prosecutors possess…I think we can do better than that. And I guess Trump thinks so, too.
Preet Bharara deserved to be fired and had to be fired. This is another good litmus test for finding ignorant, biased and partisan commentators: if they think there was anything amiss with Trump asking him to resign, or any ethical justification for Bharara to refuse, that’s a positive test result