Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was fired by President Donald Trump, says he believes the president would have asked him "to do something inappropriate" if he had stayed longer in the job.
Bharara points to Trump's interactions with James Comey, in which the president asked the former FBI chief to drop the probe into former national security advisor Michael Flynn, as well a similar conversation with Attorney General Jeff Sessions, in which Trump asked Sessions whether it would be possible to drop a criminal case against controversial ex-Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
"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," Bharara said on his new podcast, "Stay Tuned with Preet."
Bharara also described a series of phone calls he received from Trump during the presidential transition which left him convinced that the president-elect was trying to "cultivate a relationship" with the U.S. attorney in charge of the region where Trump's real estate company is located.
"To my knowledge, Donald Trump did not reach out to any other U.S. attorney, and none has come forward to say they got a phone call — it seemed like it was just me," he said.
The third time Trump reached out to Bharara, in March, he decided not to take the call. "I have reason to believe later that nobody knew that Donald Trump was calling me from the Oval Office," Bharara said. "I'm not saying he was going to tell me to do something I shouldn't do, but I thought even the phone call was a problem."
Bharara told the White House that was not interested in another one-on-one conversation with the president. A day later, he was fired.
"People ask me, 'Why do you think you were fired?' and I say, 'I dunno.' I'm prepared to believe lots of things are possible. It could be because someone got angry that I didn't return the phone call. It could be that people thought that all of these U.S. attorneys were part of this nonsensical notion of the deep state. It could be a combination of reasons. It could have been an accident and they decided to stick with it. It could be that they didn't want independent people around," he said.
A White House spokeswoman did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.
Bharara's podcast is available on WNYC and on iTunes.