Almost everybody errs at some point during their career by thinking that their job belongs to them and not to their boss. U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara pretended to make this mistake last week when he declined to hand in his resignation when, as is his right, President Donald Trump asked for it. Once the White House obliged Bharara’s grandstanding message of I won’t quit, you’ll have to fire me, the torrents of predictable press accolades began cascading down on him like a spring thaw in the Rockies.
The set-up was near perfect. Trump’s lies and hamfisted governance have transformed him into the best villain for the media since Richard Nixon recited “the press is the enemy, the press is the enemy” like an incantation in the White House in 1972. Trump could stoop to tie his shoes on the South Portico and the press would find some way to vilify him. Bharara, on the other hand, is an Obama hire who has charmed the press in his seven years. It’s not even a contest.
Reporters seeking documentation for his canonization knew where to go to gather praise. The Associated Press printed Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) testimonial on her Twitter feed: Bharara was “a fearless prosecutor who stands up to both parties and Wall Street. I guess that’s why Trump fired him.” Bharara patron Sen. Charles Schumer (D, N.Y.) stopped short of identifying any miracles performed in the line of duty by the sacked prosecutor (a former aide of his), but he did issue a laudatory statement nearly every outlet broadcast for him: “Preet Bharara has been an exemplary U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.”