India-born former top federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, has termed his firing by President Donald Trump as “deliberate”, saying he does not “begrudge” the decision but wants the “record to be clear.”
Bharara made his first public appearance yesterday since being unceremoniously removed by Trump last month as US Attorney for the Southern District of New York.
Delivering The John Jay Iselin Memorial Lecture at Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art here, Bharara spoke for over an hour to a packed hall, opening up about why he thought he was fired, taking a swipe at Trump’s penchant for firing people as evident in the real estate tycoon’s TV show ‘The Apprentice.’
When asked at the end of the lecture why he was fired, Bharara replied “Beats the hell out of me.”
He recalled the meeting held with much “fanfare” between him and then president-elect Trump in the Trump Towers in Manhattan shortly after the presidential elections. He said Trump had then “explicitly” asked him to stay on for another term and that Bharara should tell everyone that Trump wanted him to continue in his position.
“Then there was this decision to let everyone go, which I don’t begrudge anyone but I have been around the block a few times. Part of the reason I said I was not going to resign and be fired was because I want the record to reflect for all time that there was a deliberate decision, not just a bureaucratic sweeping away of what had been there in the past, but a specific decision to change one’s mind and deliberately fire me, particularly given what my office’s jurisdiction is and where my office is situated.
“I am not making any accusation about anyone but I have lived long enough to know that you want the record to be clear,” the 48-year-old said.
He also poked fun at his firing at Trump’s expense, saying asking people politely to submit their resignations is something the President has been good at.
“I was asked to resign and I refused. I insisted on being fired and so I was. I really understand why that was such a big deal, especially to this White House. I had thought that was what Donald Trump was good at. I had thought that that is in part how he got to be the President.”
“You remember the dramatic moment on The Apprentice every week when Donald Trump sat at the conference room table, manned up, looked the contestant directly in the eye and said in that voice ‘Would you kindly submit your letter of resignation’,” Bharara said amid prolonged laughter from the audience.
“I remember that. So I thought he should be comfortable doing what he knew how to do best,” he said.
As Bharara began his lecture, he said it has been about three and a half weeks since he was fired and people in the audience must have expected him to be in a “David Letterman-style post employment beard.
“Im sorry to disappoint you. I was made to shave it this morning,” he quipped.