Preet Bharara, the former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, asked in a Washington Post op-ed on Sunday: “Are there still public servants who are prepared to say no to the president?”
Bharara, who, like FBI Director James Comey, was fired by President Donald Trump following initial assurances that he would be kept on, was sharply critical of what he sees as the erosion of public trust in the rule of law under the Trump administration.
“The country once again wonders whether justice can be nonpolitical and whether its leaders understand the most basic principles of prosecutorial independence and the rule of law,” Bharara wrote in his Washington Post piece, referring to Trump’s controversial decision to remove Comey amidst the FBI’s investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.
Bharara called for three things to happen in order to “restore faith in the rule of law”:
- A truly bipartisan investigation into Russian interference in the election and “anything related”
- The selection of an apolitical FBI director
- The appointment of an “independent and uncompromised” special counsel to oversee the government’s Russia-related investigations.
While the White House initially said that the president had decided 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.
An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll released Sunday found that just 29% of Americans approve of Comey’s ousting.
Bharara urged Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, who made the recommendation to the president, to appoint a special counsel as a way to ensure both his own and the investigation’s independence from political interference.
“History will judge this moment,” Bharara wrote. “It’s not too late to get it right, and justice demands it.”
Bharara tweeted a CBS News headline on Monday concerning reports that Trump is considering “shaking up his senior staff.” Bharara’s commented, “What if instead his senior staff considered shaking up President Trump?”
What if instead his senior staff considered shaking up President Trump? https://t.co/faQ2N3UsOz
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) May 15, 2017