Former US attorney Preet Bharara says he felt ‘deja vu’ after hearing Comey’s testimony
Bharara said Comey might have not have chosen the best way to release his notes, but said he “felt a little bit like deja vu” about Comey’s interactions with Trump and how his firing played out.world Updated: Jun 11, 2017 23:42 IST
As Donald Trump continued to attack sacked FBI director James Comey on Sunday, former US attorney Preet Bharara came to the defence of his friend, saying he had himself felt a sense of “deja vu” listening to latter’s testimony at a Senate hearing on Thursday.
In a tweet, Trump called Comey “cowardly” for releasing notes of their conversations, which the president and his legal team have described as leaks which they intend to challenge legally. Others, such as Bharara, have disputed that characterisation, arguing they were not classified documents.
Though Bharara conceded Comey might have not have chosen the best way to release his notes, he had “felt a little bit like deja vu” about Comey’s interactions with Trump and how his firing played out, tracking closely with his own just a few weeks before.
Bharara was asked by the Trump administration to put in his papers along with 45 other US attorneys on March 10. He refused and was fired the next day, which he had himself announced on Twitter.
In his first interview since then, the high-profile Indian-American told ABC there had been a series of “unusual phone calls” to him from Trump — two of them from him as president-elect and the third as president — in which “it appeared to be that he was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship”.
The calls in December and January were, as Bharara described them, to “shoot the breeze” and “check in”. He went on to say they seemed similar to a call Comey has said he got from the president once when he was about to board a helicopter — to “check in” with him.
The third and the most consequential of them was on March 9. “The call came in. I got a message. We deliberated over it, thought it was inappropriate to return the call. And 22 hours later I was asked to resign along with 45 other people,” Bharara said, who had looped in the office of the attorney general.
“In reporting the phone call to the chief of staff to the attorney general I said it appeared to be that he was trying to cultivate some kind of relationship,” Bharara said, adding, “It’s a very weird and peculiar thing for a one-on-one conversation without the attorney general, without warning between the president and me or any United States attorney who has been asked to investigate various things and is in a position hypothetically to investigate business interests and associates of the president.”
Comey has said Trump had asked him to drop the investigation into his then NSA Michael Flynn’s Russia links in a similar one-on-one conversation after the attorney general, the chief of staff and the vice-president had left the Oval Office at end of a meeting.
Attorney general Jeff Sessions is likely to be asked about it when he testifies this week before the Senate intelligence committee, which is conducting one of the multiple investigations currently on in Russian meddling in US elections in 2016 and alleged collusion by Trump campaign aides.