Free Minds & Free Markets

What's Next for Preet Bharara?

Bharara's views on policy are a mystery. If he is to be a success as a politician he'll need to figure that stuff out.

JUSTIN LANE/EPA/NewscomJUSTIN LANE/EPA/NewscomWhat should Preet Bharara do next?

Life, especially public life, is full of second acts. A previous U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York who was unpopular in certain circles for overreaching in white-collar criminal cases against Wall Street, Rudolph Giuliani, turned out to be a pretty successful mayor of New York.

In that spirit, here are some possible future career options for Bharara, who was fired on Saturday after he refused a request to resign.

The most common path would be to the private sector. Among Bharara's predecessors as the top federal prosecutor in Manhattan, Mary Jo White went to Debevoise & Plimpton, while Giuliani went, initially, to White & Case. Michael J. Garcia went to Kirkland & Ellis.

These days, lawyers can sometimes make more money by avoiding big law firms and going to work instead directly for hedge funds. That was the path taken by another recent U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, James Comey, who went to work for Bridgewater Associates. He later was named to lead the FBI. Bharara's former deputy at the Southern District, Richard Zabel, went to work for Elliott Management Corp.

Law firms and hedge funds both pay more than government work. Work for private clients might have the additional benefit of providing Bharara with some useful perspective that he had lacked about what it feels like to be on the receiving end of prosecutorial inquiries. On the other hand, Bharara's financial needs appear to be less acute than those of some of his predecessors; he reportedly made $1 million as an investor in his brother's online diaper company, which was sold to (The irony of an "insider trading" prosecutor profiting handsomely from a legal private investment in a family member's company is a topic for another column.)

Bharara could try collecting unemployment benefits. Insisting on being "fired" rather than resigning voluntarily at the president's request makes it easier to collect such benefits. Eventually, though, those benefits run out, and Bharara will need to find some way to keep himself busy.

Bharara could follow in the footsteps of another predecessor at the Southern District, Robert Morgenthau, and run for governor of New York. Morgenthau, however, lost that race. A prosecutor-type personality who did succeed in reaching the governor's office, Eliot Spitzer, resigned in disgrace. Bharara as a politician might be an improvement; it is electoral and legislative politics, rather than criminal justice, that arguably is a better forum for achieving his political goal of "cleaning up" Albany.

Bharara's views on the policy substance—jobs, growth, inequality, poverty, redistribution, transportation, education—are for the most part a mystery. If Bharara is to be a success as a politician or a governor he'll need to figure that stuff out. Simply focusing on process or good-government reforms designed to curb corruption or influence peddling will be insufficient.

There are other alternatives. Bharara—still championed by his former boss in the U.S. Senate, Charles Schumer—could seek a federal judgeship as some sort of compromise deal in which Schumer would in turn deliver Democratic assent to the confirmation of some Republican judges. The Harvard Law School deanship is available, or some other suitable academic perch could be found; Richard Zabel teaches at Columbia Law School in addition to his work at Elliott.

Initially, my hope was that President Trump might find some part of the federal government in which Bharara's investigative zeal, unfettered in too many cases by the traditional restraints, might actually be an asset rather than a liability. Maybe he could be in charge of tracking Iran's cheating on the nuclear deal, or of shutting down access by the Islamic State to the international oil markets. Perhaps he could be put in charge of rooting out fraud and abuse in Medicaid, food stamps, or other welfare programs. Maybe he could investigate North Korea's human rights abuses or its nuclear program.

The more I thought of it, though, the more I realized that there just aren't many positions in the federal government where an approach of the sort Bharara has become known for would be a virtue. The risks of innocent people being wrongly ensnared are too great. It's a rare distinction. Of how many government lawyers can it be said, upon their departure from public service, that you wouldn't wish them on even your worst enemies?

A really successful second act for Preet Bharara would be one in which he restored his reputation. For expertise on that, the prosecutor might want to consider seeking out some of his former targets.

Photo Credit: JUSTIN LANE/EPA/Newscom

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  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Bharara's views on the policy substance—jobs, growth, inequality, poverty, redistribution, transportation, education—are for the most part a mystery, notes Ira Stoll

    Is it common for us to know what the grand philosophies on transportation policy a prosecutor holds?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Check his Facebook.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||


  • Garth Bigelow||

    And sell it on Silk Road 4.1

  • Libertymike||

    What is their to discover other than a sudden infusion of enlightenment?

    A prosecutor, having been fed at the public trough, is almost surely apt to repeat progressive drivel like "transcontinental railroads would not have been built without the government."

    A prosecutor, having been fed at the public trough, is not apt to have much appreciation, if any, for free and voluntary exchange, and therefore would almost surely endorse progressive drivel like, "the public sector needs to do more to enhance high-speed rail, invest in infrastructure improvements, and build upon our public / private partnerships in order to build a first class 21st century transportation system."

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's too bad that every employee that lands at the public trough needs an opinion on the enhancement of high speed rail. If only there was a more pared back system where said persons under my employ would just stick to filing stuff.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    There are other alternatives. Bharara—still championed by his former boss in the U.S. Senate, Charles Schumer—could seek a federal judgeship...

    At which point the commoners must stop any movie quote disparagement aimed in his general direction.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    Franky, my Fist, I don't give a damn.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||


    Franky Fist was my nickname in college.

  • A Cynic's Guide to Zen||

    Frakenfist, Al?

  • TheZeitgeist||

    He has a bright future lobbying for woodchipper industry.

  • Pompey:何 Class Mothersmucker||

    Hopefully he dies lonely and cold. You can be tough on crime and not abuse your subpoena power, asshole.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Subpoena Power Asshole was Crusty's nickname in college.

  • A Cynic's Guide to Zen||

    The SPA? I was in the SPA. Student Penis Association.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    I'll get you, my pretty, and your fellow commenters, too!

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    A federal prosecutor once tried to test me.

    I ate his liver with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

  • A Cynic's Guide to Zen||

    The state of being where you are no longer relevant, attractive, powerful, respected, or protected.
    "There's the Preakness, and then there's Preetness."

  • Fascist loofa-faced shitgibbon||

    "What's next for Preet Bharara?"

    Chipper diving?

  • croaker||

    I wish him a nice long life living in a tent under a bridge. Can we find some way to put him on the sex offender list?

  • Hugh Akston||

    The guy who serves at the president's pleasure should hit the talk show circuit and cry cry cry that he no longer has the job he feels entitled to. That way we can all shower in his glorious salty ham tears.

  • BakedPenguin||

    A lot of you have already read this, but what the hell.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    I giggled out loud. Cortez Cortez. Nice.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Thanks. I always imagine him saying it a slow, smarmy, faux-English accent.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    So this glib site, is this another commenter side project that I'm too myopic to have noticed or known about?

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yes. Stop by and have a beer sometime.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    It's amazing how closely my online life matches my private life.

    Me: Huh, what?

    Them: Yeah, everyone knew about that. How'd you miss that?

    Me: I... I don't know. Was there a flier on the door or something?

    Them: No, it's just the only thing everyone's been talking about for two months.

  • Raston Bot||

    the SJW version a few links down the page is funny too. the faces are priceless.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Thanks. Getting the right pics makes the writing much easier.

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    One morning I shot* a federal prosecutor in my pajamas. How he got in my pajamas, I don't know.

    *Shot him with a forceful stream of hot jizz.

  • Pompey:何 Class Mothersmucker||


  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    *looks around nervously*

  • Crusty Juggler - #2||

    I do kegels, Paul, so I cum hard.

  • BTS11||

    He should be Tarred and feathered hung upside down by his toes and ridiculed by a french man while nude

  • Damned||

    His grandstanding would have earned him enough points that he can run for some office. Not some lowly congressmen for 3761th district of NY, but mayor of NYC. Or a senator/governor... something

  • creech||

    In meantime, earning seven figures with some NYC law firm.

  • Praveen R.||

    He may stand up for public agencies, maybe. but then one could channel that zeal he has to pare down corrupt and wasted expenditure in government.

  • chemjeff||

    Lobbyist for a certain sawdust generating industry?

  • Damned||

    A cushy gig with some trial firm

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    "What should Preet Bharara do next?"

    Can I suggest, jump from a very high place onto slab concrete? Preet, make the world a cleaner place! Leave it!

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    Porn, Oxycontin addiction, or both.


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