Westchester resident and former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District Preet Bharara said he received a “weird” phone call from President Donald Trump before he was asked to resign by the Commander-in-Chief.
In his first interview since his dismissal, Bharara discussed the current Trump administration on ABC-TV's "This Week" with host George Stephanopoulos on Sunday, revealing that he received a pair of “unusual” and “weird’ calls from the Hudson Valley real estate owner, and was subsequently fired after ignoring the third.
As part of an attempt to clear any holdovers from former President Obama's tenure in office, Bharara was among 46 U.S. attorneys that were ordered to resign by Trump’s administration without warning. Bharara ultimately refused to resign and was dismissed by the president after a brief following a standoff.
Bharara and recently ousted former FBI Director James Comey have both claimed that Trump has contacted them more times directly in his first few months than the previous administration did in eight years.
“It’s a very weird and peculiar thing for a one-on-one conversation without the attorney general, without warning, between the president and me or any United States attorney who has been asked to investigate various things and is in a position hypothetically to investigate business interests and associates of the president,” Bharara said in the interview.
After taking two calls from Trump after the November election but prior to Trump's inauguration to “ostensibly shoot the breeze,” Bharara told Stephanopoulos he declined to return a third call he received from Trump because it came after Trump became president.
“The call came in. I got a message. We deliberated over it, thought it was inappropriate to return the call," Bharara said. "And 22 hours later I was asked to resign along with 45 other people,” he said.
Obama nominated Bharara to become the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York on May 15, 2009. His nomination was unanimously confirmed by the U.S. Senate on Aug. 7, 2009, and he was sworn in on Aug. 13, 2009.
A former chief counsel of Bharara, 45-year-old Joon Kim was appointed as the acting U.S. Attorney in the district until a candidate is nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate later this year.
Bharara made a name for himself during his near decade in office, targeting big names such as former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, J.P. Morgan Chase and the Big Money Bosses, when he charged 120 gang members with various offenses, ending a nine-year run in the Bronx. He has also investigated Mayor Bill de Blasio and Trump himself.
After being ousted from his position, he joined the NYU School of Law as a guest lecturer.
“I am honored to join the NYU School of Law, one of the great educational institutions in America, and I welcome the chance to contribute in such a thoughtful setting,” Bharara said in a statement . “I am thrilled for this opportunity to continue addressing the issues I so deeply care about—criminal and social justice, honest government, national security, civil rights, and corporate accountability, to name a few.”
Trump, who owns an estate in Bedford, also owns Trump National Golf Club Hudson Valley in Stormville and Trump National Westchester in Briarcliff Manor.
The Trump name also adorns Trump Tower At City Center in White Plains, Trump Plaza in New Rochelle, Trump Park Residences in Yorktown and the Donald J. Trump State Park on the Westchester/Putnam border.