President-elect Donald Trump has asked Preet Bharara, the aggressive and fiercely independent U.S. attorney in Manhattan who’s made his name going after cases of public corruption, to stay on in his position.
As U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Bharara, who was born in India and whose parents brought him to the United States as a child, heads one of the highest-profile federal prosecutors’ offices in the country.
“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 on Wednesday after meeting with Trump at Trump Tower.
“We had a good meeting,” he said. “...I agreed to stay on.”
Bharara said he has already spoken to U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), who is Trump’s nominee to be the next attorney general. Sessions also asked him to remain, he said.
Bharara is a former chief counsel to U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.). He was appointed to the U.S. Attorney’s office by President Obama in 2009. He oversees 227 prosecutors, making it the second-largest U.S. Attorney’s office in the country.
Over the years the office has earned the somewhat sarcastic moniker of the “Sovereign District of New York” for the way it is perceived to operate — as independently as possible from officials at the Department of Justice in Washington.
Bharara has overseen a number of high-profile prosecutions, including winning convictions last year of the leaders of both houses of the New York legislature: former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is a Democrat; former Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos is a Republican.
His office also successfully prosecuted dozens of cases involving insider trading on Wall Street. Time Magazine put him on its 2012 cover with the headline, “This man is busting Wall Street.”
One of the most prominent cases was the 2011 conviction of Raj Rajaratnam, the founder of the Galleon Group hedge fund, who is serving an 11-year prison term.
His office also has had high-profile terrorism cases, including the prosecution of Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to bomb Times Square, and received a life sentence. His office has also won convictions of Sulaiman Abu Ghaith, Osama bin Laden’s son in law, and of radical cleric Abu Hamza. Both were given life sentences.
Now, his prosecutors are preparing to try Ahmad Khan Rahimi, who is accused of setting off a pressure-cooker bomb in New York City in September that injured more than 30 people.