Tough-on-corruption prosecutor tells Trump he’ll stay
Financial cheaters and corrupt politicians beware: One of America’s hardest-charging prosecutors isn’t going anywhere.
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara’s brief announcement that he has agreed to stay on in the Donald Trump administration signals in at least one way that the president-elect may be serious about keeping his campaign promise to crack down on corruption.
Bharara, who was once lauded on the cover of Time magazine as the man who is “busting Wall Street,” has in the past few years set his sights on prosecuting more than a dozen state officeholders, including New York’s two most powerful lawmakers. And lately he has hinted that there may be more prosecutorial surprises to come.
“I said I would absolutely consider staying on. ... I agreed to stay on,” the quick-witted Bharara told reporters in Trump Tower after his meeting with Trump on Wednesday, adding that the billionaire businessman asked him to remain “presumably because he’s a New Yorker and is aware of the great work that our office has done.”
The surprise meeting ended months of speculation on whether Bharara would stay on after President Barack Obama leaves office in January. Though others who have held his job have gone on to other high-profile positions, such as former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and current FBI Director James Comey, Bharara has repeatedly insisted in interviews that he has the job he wants.
The 48-year-old, Indian-born Bharara, who holds degrees from Harvard and Columbia Law, was appointed by Obama in 2009 in the midst of the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. He talked tough against whitecollar crime and won convictions against dozens of defendants in insider-trading cases.
More recently, he’s built his reputation on his assault on public corruption, which included the arrests of two of the three most powerful politicians in New York state. The cases against former New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and former Senate majority leader Dean Skelos resulted in convictions. And there has been much speculation whether Bharara would go after the power trio, Democratic Gov. last member of the state’s Andrew Cuomo.
United States Attorney General for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara speaks with reporters at Trump Tower, Wednesday, Nov. 30, 2016, in New York.