Preet Bharara, a former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in an interview Tuesday that he once considered taping a phone call with President Trump shortly after the president was sworn in and at during a time that Bharara’s office was receiving investigation requests.
Bharara, who was in charge of the office that would oversee any potential probe of Trump’s New York interests, said he ultimately decided against taping the president, but was concerned about the topics he and the president could potentially discuss — and was worried that without a recording it would essentially be his word against Trump’s if details of the conversation were needed as evidence in a court case.
Bharara was fired three months into Trump’s presidency after he refused to resign along with dozens of other federal prosecutors who were holdovers from the Obama administration. He appeared on MSNBC’s “The Beat with Ari Melber” and talked about his brief and uneasy relationship with Trump that he said started with their first meeting shortly after Trump won.
He said then-President-elect Trump asked him for his personal phone number. A few weeks later Trump called him and the two shot the “breeze” for about five minutes.
Bharara said he told deputies about the call and then Trump called again two days before his inauguration. Bharara said Trump did not say anything “untoward” and did not ask him to do anything inappropriate. He said he told his staff about the call.
Bharara said it all seemed unusual.
On March 9, 2017, a few weeks after Trump was sworn in, Bharara said he was contacted by the White House secretary and was told that Trump wanted to speak to him.
“Now I thought it was different,” he said. “Now we actually have the Senate-confirmed Attorney General Jeff Sessions through whom the call would be expected to be made if it was an innocuous call. There was no heads up about it; there was no indication about what the topic would be; you started to worry about things that were going on in the world.”
Bharara said at the time the call was made, he had jurisdiction over Trump’s business interests in New York and the Department of Justice protocols states that the White House cannot discuss enforcement matters with anyone other than the attorney general or possibly the deputy attorney general.
Bharara said the call left him wondering about Trump’s intentions.
Fox News reached out to the White House for comment in the early hours on Wednesday and was told to call back during office hours.
Bharara said he considered taping the president if Trump called again because he had a certain level of mistrust. He said he discussed it for about five minutes with staffers but ultimately decided against recording the president.
“In that moment we actually considered — and it sounds not as crazy as it did back then because we know about Michael Cohen recording the president and Omarosa recording the president. We considered it,” Bharara said.
He said he tends to believe that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein was not joking when he talked about wearing a wire. He pointed out that Trump would often bring up ex-President Clinton’s June 2016 tarmac meeting with then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch at a Phoenix airport.
In the first episode of his podcast, “Stay Tuned with Preet,” he mentioned Trump’s alleged attempt at cultivating a relationship with him.
“I will tell you one thing, now that it’s been some months,” he said. “I believe based on the information that we have on the president talking to Jim Comey relating to Michael Flynn, the information about the president talking to Jeff Sessions about the case of Joe Arpaio, and how he wanted both of those cases to go away — that had I not been fired, and had Donald Trump continued to cultivate a direct personal relationship with me, it’s my strong belief that at some point, given the history, the president of the United States would have asked me to do something inappropriate.”
Fox News’ Amy Lieu contributed to this report.