Alfonse D'Amato

The media swing and miss, again


Last Friday, President Trump moved to eliminate the last remnants of the Obama administration, prosecutors at the Justice Department. The president ordered the 46 holdover U.S. attorneys to “tender their resignations immediately.” The move made headlines locally because it also meant that Trump expected Preet Bharara to resign as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York.

The media have played this up like it’s a purge of the Obama administration, and that Trump was so incensed by the constant leaks in his administration that he opted to remove the remaining U.S. attorneys.

Friends, once again, don’t believe everything you read. What some media outlets are neglecting to report is that this isn’t the first time a new president has fired all of the holdover U.S. attorneys. Did you know that in March 1993, President Clinton and his attorney general, Janet Reno, fired 93 of the 94 U.S. attorneys, and only Michael Chertoff of New Jersey was retained? That’s right, Clinton fired twice as many attorneys as Trump did. Where is that in the news?

This is just the way the political business works: There’s no scandal, no juicy story, even though the media want to make it seem like there is. The 46 Obama appointees have probably been on the hunt for new jobs since November, because this is a common practice, and they fully expected it to happen.

Bharara has made a name for himself in New York by prosecuting elected officials on public corruption charges and investigating insider trading. He’s done an amazing job of drastically reducing corruption in state politics and sending a message that Albany’s “business as usual” was over.

But the news about his dismissal came as a surprise, because Bharara had met with the president-elect in November at Trump Tower, and told reporters afterward that both Trump and his pick for attorney general, Jeff Session, had asked Bharara about staying on as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan.

Under Bharara, the Southern District was admirably nonpartisan, prosecuting both Democratic and Republican elected officials with equal zeal. Bharara served with pride, and wanted the people of New York to know that he was doing all he could to eliminate corruption and crime.

Bharara refused to resign, however, and it was announced on Saturday that he had been fired. While the details of the dismissal are unclear, he’s now out of a job.

Bharara has an extremely impressive resume, and I believe he has a bright future in politics if he chooses that route. Don’t be surprised if you begin hearing his name being thrown around for high-level positions around the state, and with his reputation for rooting out corruption and being nonpartisan, he would be taken seriously.

But for now I would simply like to congratulate and commend him for a distinguished career as U.S. attorney. That position is a great honor, and he made all New Yorkers proud. I look forward to seeing what his next move is — perhaps a campaign in the near future.

The media have also zeroed in on the Republican proposal to revise Obamacare to make it more efficient. Many outlets want you to believe that the Trump administration is going to leave 10 million Americans uncovered, but that’s simply not true. No one is really sure what the plan is, exactly, so to criticize or admonish House and Senate Republicans’ — and Trump’s — aggressive approach to changing the law for the better is ridiculous.

The president has stated time and time again that he is open to further negotiations on changes to the health care bill, and wants to be certain that those revisions will benefit Americans. One thing we do know about Obamacare that the media sometimes forgets to report is that for many Americans, it’s a disaster.

The average premium will rise 116 percent in Arizona, 53 percent in Pennsylvania and 40 percent in North Carolina. Try telling people in Phoenix that continuing Obamacare will cut health care costs. Yes, the Affordable Care expanded coverage to 20 million working-class Americans across the country, but there are also many problems with it that must be addressed immediately, because if the program is left unchanged, it will increase the long-term federal deficit, and that’s a mistake we can’t afford.

Al D’Amato, a former U.S. senator from New York, is the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm. Comments about this column?