ProPublica reported Tuesday that Marc Kasowitz, President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in the Russia investigation, “has boasted to friends and colleagues that he played a central role in the firing of Preet Bharara, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, according to four people familiar with the conversations.” Kasowitz allegedly told Trump, “This guy is going to get you.”
As ProPublica notes, the Southern District was investigating Tom Price, Trump’s secretary of health and human services, when Bharara was fired. Bharara’s former office is “also looking into Russian money-laundering allegations at Deutsche Bank, Trump’s principal private lender.” Kasowitz, who has represented Trump in cases including the Trump University lawsuit, was previously in the news over reports that he advised White House staff that they didn’t need to hire their own lawyers in the Russia investigation. This was unsound advice, and possibly an ethical violation. Now, Kasowitz may need his own attorney because he could be implicated in a larger obstruction of justice effort.
If true, the latest ProPublica report makes clear that Bharara’s firing falls into a pattern of Trump politicizing the Department of Justice. Trump fired acting Attorney General Sally Yates for refusing to defend his executive order on immigration, he fired FBI Director James Comey apparently over the Russia investigation, he is reportedly contemplating firing special counsel Robert Mueller, and he allegedly fired Bharara at the advice of his personal attorney. This president is clearly concerned about the department’s power, and trying to tame it.