The Washington Post

Former Schumer aide learned well

NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 04: U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara speaks with the reporter after posing for a portrait in his office in Manhattan, New York on September 4, 2013. (Photo by Yana Paskova/For The Washington Post) U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara (Yana Paskova/For The Washington Post)

Manhattan U.S. attorney Preet Bharara recently got smacked down by a New York judge for a press release that the judge considered  to be a little over the top.

And in what will come as no surprise to anyone with a glancing familiarity with Sen. Chuck Schumer’s reputation for being media-friendly (and that’s an understatement), Bharara is a former chief counsel to the New York Democrat.

Sounds like somebody took a a page from his old boss’s playbook.

The dressing-down came during a panel discussion at a law conference earlier this month, when U.S. District Judge Richard Sullivan chided Bharara for employing some rather purple prose in touting the federal corruption charges his office brought against a New York State senator and New York City Council member.

First, Sullivan read aloud the offending passage in a “mocking tone,” according to an account of the panel discussion by Law360 (subscription required): “‘Today’s charges demonstrate, once again, that a show-me-the-money culture seems to pervade every level of New York government. The complaint describes an unappetizing smorgasbord of graft and greed involving six officials who together built a corridor of corruption stretching from Queens and the Bronx to Rockland County and all the way up to Albany itself.”‘

Zippy stuff, to be sure. Schumer, a known soundbite aficionado, would be proud. But Sullivan was less than impressed. His verdict? “That sounds like the theme from Mighty Mouse.”

Bharara wasn’t on the panel to answer the criticism, so Richard Zabel, deputy U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York,  came to his hyperbolic colleague’s defense — as any good attorney might. He noted that federal government attorneys are under orders to use press releases “to explain to the public what’s going on” (well, that’s part of their mission).

“The purpose of a quote is to be quoted and draw attention to the case,” Zabel said.

That’s true. And it seems that Bharara was successful on that score. The quote got picked up in plenty of media outlets.

So it appears that Bharara’s channeling of Schumer’s credo is correct:  Modesty is for the unquoted.

Emily Heil is the co-author of the Reliable Source and previously helped pen the In the Loop column with Al Kamen.

The Freddie Gray case

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Campaign 2016 Email Updates

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!

Get Zika news by email

Please provide a valid email address.

You’re all set!
Show Comments
Republicans debate tonight. The South Carolina GOP primary and the Nevada Democratic caucuses are next on Feb. 20. Get caught up on the race.
The Fix asks The State's political reporter where the most important region of the state is.
He says he could talk about Charleston, which represents a little bit of everything in the state has to offer from evangelicals to libertarians, and where Ted Cruz is raising more money than anywhere else. In a twist, Marco Rubio is drawing strong financial support from more socially conservative Upstate. That said, Donald Trump is bursting all the conventional wisdom in the state. So maybe the better answer to this question is, "Wherever Trump is."
Past South Carolina GOP primary winners
South Carolina polling averages
Donald Trump leads in the first state in the South to vote, where he faces rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio.
South Carolina polling averages
The S.C. Democratic primary is Feb. 27. Clinton has a significant lead in the state, whose primary falls one week after the party's Nevada caucuses.
62% 33%
The complicated upcoming voting schedule
Feb. 20

Democrats caucus in Nevada; Republicans hold a primary in South Carolina.

Feb. 23

Republicans caucus in Nevada.

Feb. 27

Democrats hold a primary in South Carolina.

Upcoming debates
Feb 13: GOP debate

on CBS News, in South Carolina

Feb. 25: GOP debate

on CNN, in Houston, Texas

March 3: GOP debate

on Fox News, in Detroit, Mich.

Campaign 2016
Where the race stands
Most Read



Success! Check your inbox for details.

See all newsletters

Close video player
Now Playing

To keep reading, please enter your email address.

You’ll also receive from The Washington Post:
  • A free 6-week digital subscription
  • Our daily newsletter in your inbox

Please enter a valid email address

I have read and agree to the Terms of Service and Privacy Policy.

Please indicate agreement.

Thank you.

Check your inbox. We’ve sent an email explaining how to set up an account and activate your free digital subscription.