Donald Trump fires prominent US prosecutor who refused order to quit

Manhattan Attorney Preet Bharara disobeyed a presidential order and refused to step down.
Manhattan Attorney Preet Bharara disobeyed a presidential order and refused to step down.PHOTO: EPA

NEW YORK (AFP) - High-profile New York prosecutor Preet Bharara - who was among the federal attorneys asked to resign by the White House - was fired on Saturday (March 11), he announced on Twitter.

US President Donald Trump's administration on Friday demanded the resignations of 46 US prosecutors appointed during the two terms of his predecessor Barack Obama.

Bharara was included in the group asked to leave, even though he said he had met with Trump before the Republican took office and had been asked to stay on.

The federal attorney's firing capped a standoff with the Trump administration that started when Bharara refused the White House order to resign.

"I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired," Bharara tweeted on Saturday using his recently created personal account. "Being the US Attorney in SDNY (Southern District of New York) will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life."

Presidents often order political appointees from the previous administration to resign when they take office, but the abrupt nature of the move caught some by surprise - especially given that so many were asked to leave at one time.

The Southern District of New York, the high profile post to which Obama appointed Bharara in 2009, includes the Manhattan and Bronx boroughs as well as neighbouring areas just north of the city.

Bharara rose to prominence after overseeing a number of insider trading and public corruption cases. Time magazine famously lauded the prosecutor on its cover as the man who is "busting Wall Street."