Preet Bharara, the United States attorney in Manhattan who has built a reputation as a fierce prosecutor of public corruption cases, said last week that he intended to remain in office under President-elect Donald J. Trump’s administration. Bharara, who was appointed to the position in 2009 by President Obama, made the announcement after meeting with the president-elect at Trump Tower.
Bharara, 48, speaking to reporters after the meeting, said Trump had asked to see him 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. We had a good meeting,” Bharara continued. “I said I would absolutely consider staying on. I agreed to stay on.”
Bharara said that he had already talked to Senator Jeff Sessions, Republican of Alabama, who is Trump’s choice for attorney general. “He also asked that I stay on, and so I expect that I will be continuing,” Bharara said. The Wall Street Journal and other news outlets reported Bharara met Trump Nov. 30 afternoon and was asked by the incoming president if he would like to continue in office. Bharara said he would.
Bharara, who before becoming the United States attorney served as chief counsel to Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York, did not elaborate on how the meeting was arranged. But Schumer, in a statement issued after Bharara made his announcement, said, “President-elect Trump called me last week and asked me what I thought about Preet Bharara continuing his role as U.S. attorney. I told him I thought Preet was great,” Schumer added, “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.”
Trump also asked Schumer how best to reach Bharara, and the senator provided Mr. Trump with Bharara’s direct line, said a person who was briefed on the call and spoke on the condition of anonymity. United States attorneys serve at the pleasure of the president and typically offer their resignations after a new president takes office. Trump did not immediately issue a statement about his decision, but Bharara, in his comments, said that Trump had asked to meet with him “presumably because he’s a New Yorker and is aware of the great work that our office has done.”
Bharara’s tenure of more than seven years as the United States attorney in Manhattan has been exceeded in the past 100 years by only two of his predecessors: Mary Jo White and Robert M. Morgenthau.
The South Asian Bar Association of North America President Vichal Kumar, in a statement, said the organization was “enthused” about the initial reports of Bharara remaining in office. “Bharara’s selflessness, humility and dedication to public service continue to inspire many attorneys who have heard the call to serve,” Kumar said.
Bharara has shown a record of independence as a prosecutor, as well as a willingness to take on powerful figures in state government, Democrats included. “Preet has shown as a prosecutor that he is willing to take on the political establishment,” said Arlo Devlin-Brown, a former chief of Mr. Bharara’s corruption unit who is now a partner at the law firm Covington & Burling. “He’s also shown he can win. There is no question that these are qualities that the president-elect admires.”
Bharara recently concluded a two-year term as a member of the Attorney General’s Advisory Committee and as Chair of its Subcommittee on White Collar Fraud. He is Co-Chair of the Securities and Commodities Fraud Working Group of the interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force. Bharara graduated magna cum laude from Harvard College with an A.B. in Government in 1990, and from Columbia Law School with a J.D. in 1993.