“This guy is going to get you.” Those are the words of Marc Kasowitz, Donald Trump’s personal lawyer in the Russia investigation, telling Trump about New York Southern District Attorney Preet Bharara, who Trump fired early in his administration, almost assuredly out of fear Bharara was indeed about to help bring him down.
According to several people familiar with conversations between Kasowitz and friends/colleagues, Kasowtiz has publicly boasted about his role in getting Bharara fired. Kasowitz’s associates admit he is sometimes prone to exaggerating his exploits, but if this is true, his assertion adds to the mystery surrounding Bharara’s firing.
The interesting part about Bharara’s firing is that Trump first asked Bharara to stay on in his position when they met in November at Trump Tower. Then 4 months later, Trump suddenly changed his mind and asked Bharara to resign. Bharara refused and was fired.
As ProPublica previously reported, at the time of Bharara’s firing the Southern District was conducting an investigation into Trump’s secretary of health and human services, Tom Price.
Kasowitz and the White House did not respond to requests for comment.
Kasowitz became a nationally recognized figure last week, after he acted as Trump’s designated spokesman to respond to former FBI Director James Comey’s landmark Senate testimony.
Kasowitz’s claimed role in the Bharara firing appears to be a sign that the New York lawyer has been inserting himself into matters of governance and not just advising the president on personal legal matters.
Kasowitz has also said in private conversations that Trump asked him to be attorney general, according to four people familiar with the matter. Kasowitz said he turned down the role. Ultimately, Trump decided to give the position to then-Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions.
The Southern District of New York conducts some of the highest profile corporate investigations in the country. According to news reports, it is currently probing Fox News over payments made to settle sexual harassment charges against the network’s former chairman, the late Roger Ailes. The office is also looking into Russian money-laundering allegations at Deutsche Bank, Trump’s principal private lender.
Trump’s head of the Department of Health and Human Services traded stocks of health-related companies while working on legislation affecting the firms. A source says Bharara was overseeing an investigation. The White House didn’t immediately comment. Read the story.
Kasowitz has represented Trump over the years on matters including his failed libel lawsuit against a journalist, the Trump University case, and then-candidate Trump’s response to allegations of sexual assault by multiple women last year. Trump retained him to be his personal attorney in the Russia investigation last month.
The New York Times reported Sunday that Kasowitz has advised White House staffers about whether they need personal attorneys, raising conflict of interest questions.
Trump has also turned to Kasowitz’s firm to fill jobs in the administration. David Friedman, a former name partner of the firm, is now ambassador to Israel. Trump considered former senator and Kasowitz Senior Counsel Joseph Lieberman to replace Comey.
The corruption, the conflicts of interest, the overall sense of ineptitude all just seem to be never-ending at this point. When will it all end?