There’s going to be the same old “sheriff” in this town.
Preet Bharara, the gungho Manhattan federal prosecutor, has agreed to “stay on” as U.S. Attorney for the Southern District after President-elect Donald Trump offered him the gig during a meeting Wednesday afternoon at Trump Tower in Midtown.
“We had a good meeting. I agreed to stay on. I have already spoken to Sen. [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,” Bharara said in the lobby of Trump’s Fifth Avenue skyscraper following their 40-minute powwow.
Bharara, who earned the moniker “The Sheriff of Wall Street” for his aggressive prosecution of bankers, also heaped praise on his own office. “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,” Bharara said.
The meeting came on the one-year anniversary of Bharara’s winning a corruption conviction against former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, indicating that Bharara was trying to highlight his successes to keep his job.
“One year ago today, Sheldon Silver got justice, and at long last, so did the people of New York,” Bharara tweeted on Wednesday just prior to his face-to-face- with Trump. He also contacted outgoing U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch to inform her of the meeting, a source said.
Silver, 72, is currently out on bail while he appeals his 12-year prison sentence for abusing his lofty position in the State Senate to swindle millions in kickbacks and bribes.
Silver aside, Bharara has won convictions against some of New York’s most notorious white collar villains, corrupt politicians and international terrorists, including ex-NY Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos and al Qaeda terrorist Khalid Al-Fawwaz.
During a Nov. 17 press conference, Bharara hinted that he didn’t want to leave his post.
“Have you put any thought into whether you would stay on in the Trump administration?” a reporter asked him.
“I have said and I’ll say again, I love my job, I enjoy doing my job, I think we’re still doing great work here in the office. I serve at the pleasure of the president like every U.S. attorney does, and if and when our president decides to replace me, I’ll ride off into the sunset,” Bharara replied.
Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was one of the first to toot Bharara’s horn to Trump — and even put the president-elect directly in touch with the prosecutor to set up the meeting, a source 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, and I would be all for keeping him on the job and fully support it,” Schumer said.
“I am glad they met and am glad Preet is staying on. He’s been one of the best U.S Attorneys New York has ever seen,” the new Senate minority leader said.
Republicans — fully aware of ongoing investigations focusing on Gov. Cuomo and Mayor de Blasio’s administrations — were thrilled that Trump was retaining Bharara.
“That’s good news. Bharara has done a lot of good,” said Staten Island GOP chairman John Antoniello.
“Bharara has unfinished business. He should bring these investigations to their fruition,” upstate Assemblyman Steve McLaughin (R) tweeted mischievously, “How’s your day going Governor?
Bharara sees himself as a non-partisan law enforcement official, which likely appeals to Trump’s anti-establishment sensibility, people who know the prosecutor said.
“He’s been an outsider and not behold to the Democratic Party or the Republican Party,” an attorney who worked under Bharara said. “He’s just an independent law enforcement agent.”
Others who were being considered for the plumb position, included Rudy Giuliani’s ally Marc Mukasey, but he hadn’t met with Trump, a source said.
Mukasey served eight years as a prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. He was also an attorney for the Securities and Exchange Commission.