March 11, 2017

U.S. ATTORNEY PREET BHARARA REFUSES TO RESIGN, Trump fires him. As Nick Gillespie comments: “As Katherine Mangu-Ward noted last fall, it’s true that the Trump administration asked Bharara to stay on for a while. But that was then and this is now. And there’s something truly disturbing about a DOJ appointee who refuses to take a powder when asked, especially when there’s no larger question about executive-power overreach. What is it that Barack Obama used to say? ‘Elections have consequences.’ Presidents get to staff this level of service the way they want to. I don’t expect Donald Trump to be a champion of free speech, but removing Bharara from office is a small step in that direction.”

Here’s what I wrote back when Bharara subpoenaed Reason for its commenters’ names, and then put them under a gag order: “I continue to think that this is a case of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara doing one (or both) of two things: (1) Attempting a sort of brushback pitch regarding people talking smack about federal judges, to the effect of saying that we can’t punish you under the First Amendment but we’ll go after you anyway; and/or (2) doing a ‘favor’ for a judge before whom he has a lot of cases. Both seem like abuses of power to me.”

Likewise, Bharara’s grandstanding here is basically an effort to ingratiate himself with anti-Trump Democrats on the way out, presumably in the expectation of reaping political or professional rewards. It is, thus, a species of corruption, and deserves to be called such.

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