ALBANY -- Preet Bharara's future as U.S. attorney for New York's Southern District appeared in jeopardy Friday after Attorney General Jeff Sessions asked for the resignation of 46 federal prosecutors held over from the Obama administration.
The decision to drop the attorneys, including Bharara, was a surprise in New York after Bharara met with then-incoming President Trump in November and said Trump and Sessions personally asked him to stay on.
"I have already spoken to Sen. (Jeff) Sessions, who is, as you know, has been nominated to be the attorney general," Bharara said in November. "He also asked that I stay on, and so I expect that I’ll be continuing the work at the Southern District of New York."
Bharara's office declined comment late Friday on his future, and there was no immediate comment from the Justice Department specifically on his fate.
But the New York Times reported that Bharara was indeed asked to resign immediately, citing an unnamed source familiar with the matter.
Bharara, who has led a crusade against Albany corruption, was nominated to the post by former President Obama in 2009.
Bharara oversees the Southern District of New York, which runs through Manhattan, the Bronx and north through the Hudson Valley into Dutchess County.
While many of Obama's nominees have already left their posts, those who stayed under Trump have been asked to resign “in order to ensure a uniform transition,” Justice Department spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores said in a statement.
“Until the new U.S. attorneys are confirmed, the dedicated career prosecutors in our U.S. Attorney’s Offices will continue the great work of the department in investigating, prosecuting, and deterring the most violent offenders,” she said.
Bharara's fate, though, was uncertain because, as the Times noted, Trump and Sessions could choose not to accept some U.S. attorneys' resignation.
That's because while it is customary for a new president to replace the U.S. attorneys, Bharara seemed to buck the trend.
Just a few weeks after Trump's election, Bharara visited Trump Tower to meet with the president elect and emerged to say Trump had asked him to stay on -- and Bharara said he planned to do so.
"We had a good meeting. I said I would absolutely consider staying on. I agreed to stay on," Bharara said at the time.
The future of Bharara, a former top aide to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, has implications for the entire state.
Bharara is leading a sweeping corruption case against Gov. Andrew Cuomo's former top aide, Joseph Percoco; former SUNY Polytechnic Institute president Alain Kaloyeros and five upstate developers.
It is the latest case brought by Bharara, who has vowed to clean up state corruption in New York.
He's had unprecedented success: nearly 30 public officials were hit with corruption charges during his tenure, including convictions last year of both former state legislative leaders, Dean Skelos and Sheldon Silver.
"I love my job. That's for other people to decide," Bharara said in an interview with "New York Now" in October.
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