Preet Bharara Meets Donald Trump, Agrees to Stay on as US Attorney
File photo of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara. (Reuters)
Washington: India-born Preet Bharara, the powerful US attorney who has facilitated many high-profile insider trading convictions, has agreed to remain in the position after meeting President-elect Donald Trump.
Appointed as the US Attorney for the Southern District of New York by outgoing US President Barack Obama in 2009, Bharara has earned the reputation of a "crusader" prosecutor.
"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 favour for the last seven years," Bharara said.
"We had a good meeting," he said in a brief interaction with reporters after his meeting with Trump yesterday.
"I said I would absolutely consider staying on. I agreed to stay on," said Bharara, who is in his late 40s.
"I have already spoken to Senator (Jeff) Sessions, who is as you know is the nominee to be the attorney general. He also asked that I stay on, and so I expect that I will be continuing to work at the southern district," said the top Indian-American attorney.
Born in a Sikh family in Ferozepur, Punjab, in 1968, Bharara grew up in New Jersey after his parents moved to the US.
After being appointed as the US attorney for the powerful South District of New York, Bharara has made a national and international mark for himself with many high-profile cases and investigations including foreign countries, insider trading and those involving US politicians.
It was under Bharara's prosecution, that India-born former Goldman Sachs director Rajat Gupta was convicted for insider trading in 2012.
"Leaving Preet in office sends a powerful message to Wall Street that this is not open season for Wall Street folks to run around and do whatever they want," Greg Morvillo, a partner at Morvillo LLP, told The Wall Street Journal.
Morvillo LLP had represented hedge-fund manager Anthony Chiasson whose insider-trading conviction was obtained by Bharara's office.
New York Senator Charles Schumer welcomed the move and said Trump had called him last week and asked for his thought on Bharara staying in this position.
"I told him I thought Preet was great, and I would be all for keeping him on the job and fully support it," Schumer said.
"Preet has shown as a prosecutor that he is willing to take on the political establishment," Arlo Devlin-Brown, a former chief of Bharara's corruption unit who is now a partner at the law firm Covington and Burling told The New York Times.
"He's also shown he can win. There is no question that these are qualities that the president-elect admires," he said.
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"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," The New York Times reported.
"President elect Trump after meeting with the fearless United States attorney Preet Bharara, in a move more poignant then any before, declared that America, a nation of laws, will enjoy law enforcement without regard to political party labels: Republican or Democrat," Indian-American attorney Ravi Batra said.
"After all, as has been said before, there is no Democratic or Republican way to lock up a criminal," said Batra.
"Given Preet Bharara's exceptional service to the people of the United States, meeting, and I believe well exceeding, the power that emanates from the chair of the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York -- I hope that then-president Trump will appoint Preet to become a justice of the United States Supreme Court when the next vacancy occurs -- beyond the one created by the untimely demise of the great Nino Scalia," Batra said.