The New York City federal prosecutor who expected to remain on the job when Donald Trump took office but ended up being fired says he was made uncomfortable by one-on-one interactions with the president — just like James Comey was.
Preet Bharara tells ABC’s “This Week” that he thinks Trump was trying to “cultivate some kind of relationship” with him. He found it “very weird and peculiar” to be drawn into private conversations with the president.
“It’s an incredibly serious thing if people think that the President of the United States can tell heads of law enforcement agencies based on his own whim, or his own personal preferences or friendships, that they would or should not pursue particularly criminal cases,” he said. “That’s not how America works.”
When asked if there was enough evidence to being a justice of obstruction case, Bharara said there “absolutely” is.
“I think there’s absolutely evidence to begin a case,” he said. “I think it’s very important for all sorts of armchair speculators in the law to be clear that no one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction. It’s also true I think from based on what I see as a third party and out of government that there’s no basis to say there’s no obstruction.”
After the election but before the inauguration, Trump asked Bharara to stay on as U.S. attorney in Manhattan when they met at Trump Tower.
Bharara says Trump called him twice before the inauguration, to “shoot the breeze.”
Trump reached out again as president, but Bharara says he refused to return the call, because he considered these contacts inappropriate. Bharara was asked for his resignation, along with other U.S. attorneys, but he refused and was fired.
Bharara says he’s not accusing Trump of pressing him on any particular case. But he says it’s discomfiting for a president to be in private communication with top prosecutors.