President Donald Trump said “you’re fired” to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. The now jobless prosecutor was the architect behind the 2011 Black Friday indictments against PokerStars, Full Tilt Poker, and Absolute Poker/Ultimate Bet.
Bharara was hired by former President Barack Obama. Trump kept him aboard after his January inauguration, but has decided to send the prosecutor packing. The president asked him to resign or be fired. He chose the latter.
“I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life,” he posted on Twitter.
The 48-year-old Indian-born Columbia law school graduate served as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from August 13, 2009 until March 11, 2017. He was considered one of the most aggressive and outspoken prosecutors against public corruption and Wall Street crime.
But to poker players, he’ll always be known as the guy who shut the poker sites down in 2011. On April 15 of that year, he indicted 13 online poker executives and seized control of most of the top poker sites operating in the United States.
Sessions Called for His Firing
Attorney General Jeff Sessions advised President Trump to fire 46 Obama-era U.S. attorney’s. Soon after, Bharara was asked to resign or be fired.
It’s unclear why he and his peers were fired, but many in the political media have speculated. Huffington Post suggests Bharara was canned due to his impending investigation into Fox News for allegedly hiding from shareholders’ payments to settle sexual harassment complaints against former executive Roger Ailes.
Ailes and Fox owner Rupert Murdoch are close friends with Trump. It’s no secret the president prefers Fox News over competitors such as CNN, a network he refers to as “fake news.”
Many reporters, mostly liberal-leaning, have accused Trump of firing Bharara and other U.S. attorneys because he had been investigating entities the president has ties to.
But in 1993, Democratic President Bill Clinton asked for resignations from 93 U.S. attorneys including, oddly enough, Jeff Sessions.
Poker World Still Recovering
The American online poker scene still hasn’t recovered since Black Friday. There are no major poker sites such as PokerStars operating in the U.S except in New Jersey.
Only three states currently have licensed and regulated internet poker sites: New Jersey, Nevada, and Delaware. Many other states have pending bills on the table but have yet to pass legislation. Pennsylvania and New York appear close to legalizing online poker.
Poker in the United States hasn’t been the same since Bharara seized control of the major poker site domains in 2011.