Anyone who has seen a friend fired, or been fired himself, dreams of only one thing: a recognition of one’s heroic contribution to the job.
Today, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara lived that dream. The well-known prosecutor used his office to fine Wall Street’s biggest insider traders. Last week, however, Bharara was asked to resign along with over 42 other attorneys general. Such turnover is common with a new administration, but unusual in Bharara’s case since U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions reportedly told him his job was safe.
Bharara says he was fired after refusing to quit, and other stories indicate he was working on investigations that may have embarrassed the White House.
What is indisputable, however, is the remarkable theater of his exit. One thing you can say: Preet Bharara does not go out like a punk.
The scene is remarkable. In a moment worthy of the finest Roman emperors, Bharara emerges from the doors of the U.S. Attorney’s office to a crowd of emotional, cheering colleagues.
Bharara’s exit indicates the size of his loyal army, standing behind police barriers, as they would for a parade.
As Bharara walks down the steps to great members of the clapping, smiling crowd, bagpipes play behind him.
This isn’t the usual sad office party with goodbye cupcakes and limp balloons. It’s all very much the image of the conquering hero, and the symbolism is all too clear: Bharara intends to hold his head high, and his former employer should worry.
What are Bharara’s thoughts during this epic (and very staged) exit? We may never know. Bharara savvily refuses to ruin the iconic moment with words. To cries from reporters of “Mr. Bharara! Preet! Preet!” he dismisses the cameras, turns his back and walks into the warm embrace of his appreciative colleagues.
Happening now: Preet Bharara exits U.S. Attorney's office after being fired on Saturday. pic.twitter.com/cHTZwAz24R
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) March 13, 2017
Bharara’s exit today reminds us of one of the best workplace exits of all time: That of Peggy Olson from Draper Price in “Mad Men.”
The lesson is clear: No matter what your job — whether you’re an advertising associate or a leading light of the Department of Justice — always try to go out in style.