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Bharara calls for special counsel to oversee Russia probe

Press Trust of India  |  New York 

India-born former top federal prosecutor Preet Bharara, who was fired by US President Donald Trump, has said it is "common sense" to call for appointing an "independent and uncompromised" special counsel to oversee the probe into Russia's interference in the US elections. Bharara, 48, said the firing of FBI Director James Comey, who was leading the investigation into links between Donald Trump's team and Russia's meddling in the last year's US Presidential elections, listed steps that have to be taken urgently to "restore faith in the rule of " "I join in the common-sense call for an independent and uncompromised special counsel to oversee the investigation. Given the manner of Comey's firing and the pretextual reasons proffered for it, there is no other way," he wrote in an op-ed for 'The Post', referring to the unceremonious firing of Comey by Trump. "History will judge this moment. It's not too late to get it right, and justice demands it," he wrote yesterday. He said the nation needs a "truly bipartisan investigation" in Congress. "That means no partisan nonsense - just a commitment to finding the facts, whatever they may be, proving (or disproving) Russian interference in our election and anything related. Congress is a check and a balance, and never more important than when a bullying chief executive used to his own way seems not to remember the co-equal status of the other two branches," he said. About Comey's firing, Bharara questioned if there still were public servants prepared to say no to the president. He said Comey's replacement must be "apolitical and sensitive" to the law-enforcement mission, "not someone with a long record of reflexive partisanship or commentary on the very investigative issues that will come before the bureau." "Unfortunately, some of the candidates paraded by cameras this past weekend reality-show style fall into that category. I can't think of anything worse for FBI morale, for truth- finding or for public trust.

More than ever the FBI needs a strong and stabilising hand, which means somebody who has not spent most of his or her career pandering for votes, groveling for cash or putting party over principle," he said. Bharara described Comey, who was once his boss, as his "friend." "I know that many people are mad at him. He has at different times become a cause for people's frustration and anger on both sides of the aisle. Some of those people may have a point. But on this unsettling anniversary of that testimony, I am proud to know a man who had the courage to say no to a president," he added. Bharara said the now-Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein, while a "respected" career prosecutor, has mostly deserved the doubts he generated with his peculiar press- release-style memo purporting to explain Comey's sudden sacking. "He can still fix it. The move would not only ensure the independence of the investigation, but also provide evidence of Rosenstein's own independence," he said.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, May 15 2017. 21:42 IST