Westchester's Preet Bharara Replaced By Longtime Friend After Trump Firing

Westchester resident Preet Bharara, the high-profile former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York who was surprisingly fired by President Donald Trump's administration on Saturday, will be replaced in office by a longtime friend and advisor.

U.S. District Attorney Joon Kim.
U.S. District Attorney Joon Kim. Photo Credit: U.S. Attorney's Office
Preet Bharara
Preet Bharara Photo Credit: United States Attorney's Office

On Tuesday, the White House announced that 45-year-old Joon Kim, who had served as Bharara’s chief counsel, will become the acting U.S. Attorney in the district until a candidate is nominated by Trump and confirmed by the Senate later this year.

In an attempt to continue clearing house from the Obama era, Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered the 46 attorneys - who were hired during Obama’s time in office - to step down from their positions on Friday afternoon. The firings reportedly came without advance warning.

Before becoming the new acting U.S. Attorney, Kim served two years as Deputy U.S. Attorney, helping to oversee the Criminal and Civil Divisions of the Office. Prior to that, he was the Chief of the Criminal Division and has also served as Chief Counsel to Bharara from 2013 to 2014.

Kim’s appointment comes after a standoff between Bharara and Trump, with the former refusing to resign, prompting the president to fire him.

"I did not resign," Bharara wrote in a tweet posted around 3 p.m. Saturday. "Moments ago, I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life."

The order for the firing of the 48-year-old Bharara came as a shock to many, after he was personally approached and asked to retain his position by Trump during his transition to the top office in a November meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan.

Bharara made quite the name for himself during his eight years in office, targeting big names such as former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos, J.P. Morgan Chase and the Big Money Bosses, when he charged 120 gang members with various offenses, ending a nine-year run in the Bronx. He has also investigated Mayor Bill de Blasio and Trump himself.

"Serving my country as U.S. Attorney here for the past seven years will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life, no matter what else I do or how long I live," Bharara said in a statement issued shortly after his tweet. "One hallmark of justice is absolute independence, and that was my touchstone every day that I served."

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