Preet Bharara, the former U.S. attorney who said he was fired by the Trump administration after refusing to resign earlier this month, is headed to the NYU School of Law.
Bharara will join the law school as a distinguished scholar in residence starting April 1, the university announced Tuesday.
“I am honored to join the NYU School of Law, one of the great educational institutions in America, and I welcome the chance to contribute in such a thoughtful setting,” Bharara said in a statement through the school. “I am thrilled for this opportunity to continue addressing the issues I so deeply care about — criminal and social justice, honest government, national security, civil rights, and corporate accountability, to name a few.”
Other distinguished scholars in residence at the school typically pursue their own research, participate in panel discussions and student forums, and collaborate with various centers devoted to specific areas of law and public policy.
The position is considered a full-time one with the school but does not preclude Bharara from taking on other engagements, NYU law spokesman Michael Orey told The Washington Post.
“He may also teach, but we have no specifics on that at this time,” Orey said.
Bharara is no stranger to the NYU campus. He had previously given talks and participated in panel discussions at the law school, including one last January on cybersecurity and another in 2015 on insider trading prosecutions and public corruption. Bharara was also the law school’s convocation speaker in 2015.
“Speak simply and listen intently. Those are the hallmarks of great leaders, not just great lawyers,” he told the graduating class then. “The law is merely an instrument, and without the involvement of human hands, the law is as lifeless and uninspiring as a violin kept in its case.”
Bharara graduated from Harvard College and Columbia Law School.
On March 11, Bharara’s nearly eight-year tenure as the U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York came to an abrupt end after he said he was fired. Bharara had refused to tender his resignation after the Justice Department asked all 46 U.S. attorneys appointed by President Barack Obama to leave their offices.
I did not resign. Moments ago I was fired. Being the US Attorney in SDNY will forever be the greatest honor of my professional life.
— Preet Bharara (@PreetBharara) March 11, 2017
Although it is not unprecedented for presidents to dismiss U.S. attorneys from the previous administration, Bharara’s dismissal made waves because President Trump had summoned Bharara to Trump Tower shortly after his election, and reportedly asked him whether he wanted to stay on.
“The President-elect asked, presumably because he’s a New Yorker and is aware of the great work that our office has done over the past seven years, 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 in a brief statement to reporters after meeting with Trump then.
After Bharara was fired, he was temporarily replaced by Joon H. Kim, who previously was Bharara’s chief counsel.
Bharara had already developed a reputation for being one of the most influential and independent prosecutors in the country, best known for going after Wall Street as well as members of both political parties.
In 2015, The Washington Post’s Sally Jenkins described Bharara as “the most powerful prosecutor in the country” for whom “no target is apparently too big.” Bharara also had developed a reputation for wit and outspokenness; FBI Director James B. Comey said the impression he gave was “if Jon Stewart was a prosecutor.”
During his tenure, Bharara has indicted 17 prominent New York politicians for malfeasance — 10 of them Democrats, Jenkins reported. He also investigated New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo after he closed an ethics commission.
In 2012, he was named one of Time Magazine’s most influential people. The write-up was penned by Viet Dinh, a conservative legal scholar and an old buddy of Bharara’s:
Without drama, his Manhattan team has battled terrorism, convicting the Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad; crippled international criminal networks run by Russian arms dealer Viktor Bout, Jamaican drug trafficker Christopher Coke and Colombian rebel group FARC; and in March secured a half-billion-dollar forfeiture from computer contractor SAIC in the biggest fraud ever against New York City. Those are good cases well prosecuted.
Bharara was an outspoken man in a job that has been held by vocal and politically aspirant predecessors, including former New York City mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and Comey.
Along with his bipartisan prosecutions, Bharara developed a reputation for being tough on insider trading, although he was criticized for the lack of prosecutions that followed the Great Recession. Bharara defended himself, saying it was far harder to jail independent business executives because they had consulted with attorneys every step of the way.
“It is a very difficult thing to put a person in jail when they say ‘I asked my lawyers to do the best they could and tell me what I’m supposed to do and they are independent and they were paid a fee,’” Bharara said in 2014, according to TheStreet. “So those are among the various obstacles you have.”
Cleve R. Wootson Jr. contributed to this report.