Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara answered in the affirmative when asked Sunday by ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos if there’s evidence against President Trump to begin a case for obstruction of justice.
‘I think there’s absolutely evidence to begin a case,’ Bharara, who was fired by Trump in March, said on This Week.
He added, for all the ‘armchair speculators,’ that ‘no one knows right now whether there is a provable case of obstruction.’
‘It’s also true, I think, from based on what I see as a third-party and out of government that there’s no basis to say there’s no obstruction,’ the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York told Stephanopoulos.
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Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Sunday that there’s ‘absolutely’ enough evidence against President Trump to start an obstruction of justice case
Preet Bharara (right) sat down for his first televised interview with ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos (left) since being fired from his post by the Trump administration in March
Stephanopoulos brought up comments made by Alan Dershowitz, who’s defended the president and argued that it’s in Trump’s authority to direct the FBI to stop investigating any individual.
Bharara didn’t buy Dershowitz’s thinking, he said.
‘And this point on whether or not the president has legal authority to fire or to direct an investigation, I don’t really get it,’ Bharara said. ‘It’s a little silly to me.’
‘The fact that you have authority to remove someone from office doesn’t automatically immunize that act from criminal responsibility,’ Bharara said.
This marked Bharara’s first television interview since getting the boot from the Trump administration.
He was also seen publicly on Thursday, attending the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing, starring former FBI Director James Comey.
Bharara was seated second row.
Spotted on Capitol Hill Thursday, fired U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, who sat second row at the James Comey hearing on Thursday
Fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara sits second row behind former FBI Director James Comey at Thursday’s Senate Intelligence Committee hearing
Mother Jones journalist David Corn spied Preet Bharara in the audience and asked him how he was able to attend
‘I have great connections at StubHub,’ Bharara joked to Mother Jones’ David Corn, who was also seated nearby.
Corn had asked Bharara if Comey had requested he attend, as the two are friends and former colleagues.
In reality, Bharara’s seat came courtesy of Sen. Chuck Schumer, the current Senate minority leader, according to CNN.
Before becoming a U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara served as Schumer’s chief counsel.
Schumer was among those who criticized the Trump administration when Bharara was fired in March.
‘Preet Bharara was an excellent US attorney. Took on Wall St, public corruption & terrorists. He’ll be sorely missed,’ the New York Democrat tweeted at the time.
Bharara axing was newsworthy because it represented a flip-flop from the president.
Preet Bharara (second row, right) is seen peaking out from the audience as FBI Director James Comey begins his testimony on Capitol Hill Thursday
Former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is photographed before the testimony of former FBI Director James Comey begins
In November 2016, shortly after Donald Trump was elected, Bharara met with his fellow New Yorker, the president-elect, in Trump Tower and was asked to stay on.
Then, in March, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered all the U.S. attorneys who were holdovers, 45 in all, from the Obama administration to resign.
Bharara refused and was fired the next day.
‘To this day I have no idea why I was fired,’ Bharara told Stephanopoulos Sunday.
In listening to Comey’s testimony Thursday, Bharara said he felt a sense of ‘deja vu,’ as Trump called him multiple times before the president’s swearing-in, and then once after taking office.
This was similar to Trump calling the FBI director and inviting him over to the White House for dinner, or meeting with him in the Oval Office alone.
‘The number of times that President Obama called me in seven-and-a-half years was zero,’ Bharara explained.
‘The number of types I would have been expected to be called by the president of the United States would be zero because there has to be some kind of arm’s length relationship given the jurisdiction that various people had,’ he continued.
Bharara said when Trump called him in December it was to ‘shoot the breeze.’
‘It was a little bit uncomfortable, but he was not the president, he was only the president-elect,’ Bharara said.
The former U.S. attorney said Trump called him one other time as president-elect and then again as president, but Bharara didn’t take the final call.
‘It appeared to be that he was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship,’ Bharara said, though wouldn’t go as far as Comey and call it ‘patronage.’
‘And it may be hard for viewers of yours to understand if you’re a layperson and not in the Justice Department, you know, what’s wrong with that,’ he continued. ‘The CEO of a company wants to call a field manager somewhere in the country because he thinks he’s an up-and-comer, what’s wrong with that?’
‘The problem is the Justice Department is different,’ Bharara said.
As the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara’s jurisdiction included Trump Tower and other Trump business interests.
So when Trump’s final call came in, Bharara didn’t call the president back.
‘So the call came in. I got a message. We deliberated over it, thought it was inappropriate to return the call,’ he said. ‘And 22 hours later I was asked to resign along with 45 other people.’
While he said he still doesn’t know why he was asked to leave his post, he’s moved on.
‘You know, it doesn’t bother me. I’m living a great good life, and very happily. But I have no idea,’ he said.