Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Good Riddance

As usually happens when a new president and attorney general take office, the U.S. attorneys who had served in the previous administration were all asked to turn in their resignations.  An Obama holdover named Preet Bharara, however, decided not to resign and was then fired, which generated a bit of controversy.  As Glenn Reynolds points out in USA Today:
There’s been a lot of faux outrage about this decision of Trump’s, but it’s all bogus. And Bharara’s refusal to resign was childish, an effort to score anti-Trump points with Democrats that, all by itself, demonstrated why Bharara was unfit for office and why Trump was right to let him go.  [italics in original]
Reynolds continues by pointing out that there's nothing unusual about such resignation (or firing) and replacement:
It’s traditional for new administrations to request the resignation of holdovers from the previous administration. It’s considered more polite than outright firing people. But that’s all it is: politeness.
To learn more, read the full article.

Writing about Mr. Bharara in National Review, Ian Tuttle provides some historical perspective:
The replacement of the nation’s 93 U.S. attorneys is standard procedure when a president from a different party takes the White House. Bill Clinton asked for the resignation of all but one U.S. attorney in March 1993 (unlike, Bharara, they complied); George W. Bush had replaced nearly every U.S. attorney by the end of his first year in office; Barack Obama swapped out Bush-era U.S. attorneys for his own - among whom was Bharara. This is not a scandal. Since the executive branch is tasked with enforcing the laws, and since every administration has different (sometimes radically different) enforcement priorities, each administration wants lawyers who will carry out its priorities.
It's true that the prosecutorial phase of law enforcement has been somewhat politicized, simply because each side has its own particular view of which legal matters are more important.  Again, read the full article.

One more bit of historical perspective comes from The Daily Caller and the "what goes around comes around" department.  One of the holdovers from the administration of Bush the Elder, who was asked to resign by Janet Reno after Bill Clinton took office, was none other than our current attorney general.

UPDATE:  In Politico, Jack Shafer says that Bharara does not deserve to be turned into a martyr.

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