White House says it doesn't matter if Trump told Bharara he would stay on

Spicer: Trump 'followed in past practices' on firing Bharara

The White House insisted Monday that it is not "relevant" whether President Donald Trump told fired U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara he would keep his job during the new administration.

The ousted federal prosecutor said he was "fired" Saturday after the Justice Department asked him and 45 other U.S. attorneys to resign. Months ago, Bharara met with the then-president-elect in Trump Tower, saying after the meeting that Trump wanted him to stay on.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer said Monday he was not "privy" to their conversation and does not know if Trump asked Bharara to stay on the job. However, he argued it did not matter what Trump told him then, as attorneys general have often turned over federal prosecutor positions in new administrations.

"I don't think it really matters at the end of the day," Spicer told reporters at this daily briefing. He added that Trump called Bharara last week to "thank him for his service."

Several officials familiar with the matter told NBC News that Bharara was certain Trump wanted him to stay on.

President Barack Obama appointed Bharara to the post in 2009. He became known for aggressive prosecution of Wall Street crime following the financial crisis.

— CNBC's Marty Steinberg contributed to this report.