The U.S. attorney in Manhattan, Preet Bharara, recently got smacked down by a federal judge for a news release that the judge considered to be 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 as though somebody took a page from his old boss’s playbook.
The dressing-down came during a panel discussion at a law conference 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 a New York City Council member.
First, Sullivan read the offending passage in a “mocking tone,” according to an account of the panel discussion by Law360: “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. Schumer 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 in his district, came to his hyperbolic colleague’s defense. He noted that federal prosecutors are under orders to use news releases “to explain 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 Bharara was successful on that score. The quote got picked up in plenty of media outlets.
So it seems Bharara’s channeling of Schumer’s credo is correct: Modesty is for the unquoted.
Potential 2016 presidential candidates are already testing the waters. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), for example, was in the earliest states — Iowa and New Hampshire — over the summer, even though the election is more than three years away.
But wait! It’s only a bit more than two years until the first-in-the-nation New Hampshire primary. And a new University of New Hampshire poll has good news for two Republicans, Sen. Rand Paul (Ky.) and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and fantastic news for one Democrat, former senator and secretary of state Hillary Clinton.
As for Democrats, Clinton leads with 64 percent, followed not-so-closely by Vice President Biden and Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) with 6 percent each.
Okay, so the polls are relatively meaningless save maybe to set a bit of a baseline for future polling and to get some clicks online. The poll itself notes that “New Hampshire primary voters typically decide who they will vote for in the last weeks, or even days, of the campaign.” (Even so, on the Democratic side, 2 percent already said they would not vote for Hickenlooper. Who? That’s Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper, so he’s got some work to do.)
Even the politically astute folks in the Granite State didn’t seem to have focused much on the race, with many saying they didn’t know enough to have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of many of the GOP candidates. Cruz, for instance, remains a question mark to 43 percent of those polled.
Remember Bill Clinton’s 1992 theme song, “Don’t Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)”? So now, for 2020, we’re thinking . . .
One thing seems to unite Democrats and Republicans: media-bashing.
On Wednesday we heard a line from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) that reminded us that no matter how much the parties disagree, they both despise the Fourth Estate.
During a news conference, Pelosi sort of apologized for using figures in discussing the partisan breakdown of last week’s vote to raise the debt limit. She apparently feared such things might confuse the poor numerically illiterate scribes. “I know maybe you don’t like numbers because you’re into words and stuff,” she said at her weekly briefing.
That put her on exactly the same page as Rep. Dave Schweikert (R-Ariz.), who professed amazement this month that reporters had such a meager grasp of numbers that they would fall for the White House’s argument for raising the debt limit.
“I’m stunned you all fall for it in the press,” he told reporters, according to Slate’s Dave Weigel. “None of you were math majors, were you?”
With Emily Heil