Preet Bharara, the former US Attorney for the Southern District of NY, asked in a Washington Post op-ed on Sunday: "Are there still public servants who are prepared to say no to the president?"
While the White House initially said that the president had made a decision to fire Comey at the recommendation of the Justice Department, Trump himself contradicted these claims when he told NBC News that he would have removed Comey "regardless" of what DOJ officials said. "Unfortunately, some of the candidates paraded by cameras this past weekend reality-show style fall into that category", said Bharara, who is now a scholar in residence at New York University Law School.
Comey was once my boss and remains my friend.
Bharara said a special prosecutor must be "independent and uncompromised" and that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who is overseeing the Russian Federation probe because Attorney General Jeff Sessions has recused himself from it, must appoint one. I am very proud of my background, my roots and my heritage. "The move would not only ensure the independence of the investigation, but also provide evidence of Rosensteins own independence", he said.
In an op-ed in the Washington Post published Sunday evening, Bharara recalled another instance of executive overreach into the realm of prosecutorial independence: the USA attorney firing scandal of 2006 and 2007, in which federal prosecutors were fired for what were later determined to be political reasons. "Who is going to believe that", said Bharara.
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Bharara said the now-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, while a "respected" career prosecutor, has mostly deserved the doubts he generated with his peculiar press- release-style memo purporting to explain Comeys sudden sacking.
The Senate held a bipartisan investigation into those firings and the politicisation of the Justice Department. The investigation led to the resignation of almost a dozen Justice Department officials, including Attorney General Alberto Gonzales. The investigation lead to not only the surfacing of previously unknown information but more importantly "every top leader" stepping down.
While early explanations from White House aides detailed how it was Rosenstein's recommendation that persuaded Trump to fire Comey, the President himself said in an interview with NBC News that he had made up his mind to fire the Federal Bureau of Investigation director before meeting with his deputy attorney general. "The blow to the morale and reputation of the department was incalculable".
Two days before he was sacked, 48-year-old Bharara had got a phone call from Trump's office asking him to call the President back.
"I was doing everyone a favour by not returning the call. I was doing the President a favour by not returning the call", Manhattan's former prosecutor said during a conversation last week with New York University's School of Law Dean Trevor Morrison here. Who is going to believe that? I know that many people are mad at him. "At that point I was kind of done with him (Trump) so I didn't return the call", he said.