Former U.S. Federal Attorney Preet Bharara may have been overseeing an investigation into the current health secretary, Tom Price.
The former federal attorney was fired by President Donald Trump two weeks ago. While incoming administrations often replace federal prosecutors with handpicked selections, Bharara claims that the commander-in-chief had promised he’d keep his job after the January inauguration.
Trump’s appointment for the head of the Department of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, had attracted controversy during his Senate confirmation hearing. Reports suggested that Price, previously a member of the House, had traded hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth stock of in medical companies when he was creating laws to regulate the same industry.
ProPublica quotes Price as having claimed that all of his trades were fair and transparent, while his critics voiced concerns that he could have been using his position as a legislator to enrich himself. Another legislator went so far as to call for a hearing, stating he believed Price may have run afoul of the STOCK act. The STOCK act was signed into law by Barack Obama and barred lawmakers from using non-public or confidential information for profit.
Bharara, who, as a U.S. Attorney, headed the powerful Southern District of New York, implied himself that his firing may have been politically motivated. Donald Trump had reportedly asked Bharara to resign and had called him two days prior to the forceful and well-publicized termination.
The former U.S. Attorney says he declined the president’s call, not wanting to have a private conversation with the commander-in-chief without first seeking approval from his own superiors in the judiciary.
Twitter served as Bharara’s way for sharing both how he had been fired and where his suspicions lie.
On March 11th, Bharara Tweeted, “By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like.”
By the way, now I know what the Moreland Commission must have felt like.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 12, 2017
The Moreland Commission had been in charge of a corruption investigation and was launched by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 2013. Cuomo dismissed the investigators after the probe began implicating some of his personal and professional associates. Bharara eventually won several convictions against state lawmakers, despite the governor’s interference.
The allegations against Price are not ill-founded. The HHS Secretary has bought stock in foreign companies seeking approval from the FDA, and also took advice from pharmaceutical representatives to request the alteration or dismissal of records. ProPublica noted that Price had asked a “government agency to remove a damaging drug study on behalf of a pharmaceutical company.”
Robert Faturechi also wrote on behalf of ProPublica that, “Another transaction that drew scrutiny was a 2016 purchase of between $1,001 and $15,000 in shares of medical device manufacturer Zimmer Biomet. CNN reported that days after Price bought the stock, he introduced legislation to delay a regulation that would have hurt Zimmer Biomet.”
Price claims the transaction was made by his broker without his knowledge.