Bharara Agrees to Continue as U.S. Attorney After Obama’s Termby and
Trump asks prosecutor to remain after high-profile convictions
Bharara’s decision is said to take his office by susprise
Preet Bharara will stay on as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan next year, the prosecutor said Wednesday after a meeting with President-elect Donald Trump.
Bharara, a Democrat who has won a string of high-profile convictions for offenses ranging from insider trading to political corruption, was appointed to the job in 2009 by President Barack Obama. U.S. attorneys customarily offer letters of resignation when a new president is inaugurated, particularly if the new president is from the opposing party.
After meeting with the Republican president-elect in his Fifth Avenue tower, Bharara, the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, spoke with reporters.
The president-elect “asked to meet with me to discuss whether or not I’d be prepared to stay on as the United States attorney to do the work as we have done it, independently, without fear or favor, for the last seven years,” Bharara said.
Bharara added that he had also spoken with Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, Trump’s nominee for attorney general. “He also asked that I stay on,” Bharara said, “and so I expect that I will be continuing to work at the Southern District.”
Bharara hadn’t told aides his plans for life after January, a person familiar with the matter said. Bharara told Attorney General Loretta Lynch a few days ago that he would be meeting with Trump, this person said. He spoke with Sessions on the phone after the meeting with Trump. It’s not clear how long Bharara will stay in the position.
“This shows Trump’s populist sense,” John Coffee, a professor of securities law at Columbia University, said of the decision to keep Bharara. “This means that they’re not going to turn away from insider trading or other Wall Street prosecutions.”
Although incoming presidents nominate candidates for the 93 U.S. attorney positions, as a practical matter they generally rely on recommendations from senior U.S. senators representing states in each jurisdiction. Both New York senators are Democrats. The state’s senior senator and Bharara’s onetime boss, Chuck Schumer, recommended Bharara to Obama in 2009. Schumer will be the Senate’s top Democrat in the new Congress.
“President-elect Trump called me last week and asked me what I thought about Preet Bharara continuing his role as U.S. attorney,” Schumer said in a written statement. “I told him I thought Preet was great, and I would be all for keeping him on the job and fully support it. I am glad they met and am glad Preet is staying on. He’s been one of the best U.S attorneys New York has ever seen.”
Bharara’s office, which won convictions against two top state lawmakers last year, brought corruption charges against a former top aide to Governor Andrew Cuomo in September.