Assembly Speaker's Arrest Draws Attention to US Attorney Prosecuting Him

The arrest of Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver is also drawing some attention to the prosecutor charging him, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. Josh Robin has a look at who Bharara is and what political future he envisions for himself.

The day after he put the Assembly speaker in handcuffs, the U.S. attorney was portrayed in the New York Post as a "Capitol crimes buster."

Sherriff Preet Bharara may be an understatement. The way people are talking, he's New York's savior.

"He clearly has the competence to do almost anything he wants," said former Mayor David Dinkins.

But that's the question. What does Preet want to do?

"I like the job that I do now," he told NY1 in August 2014. "That's why I intend to do it as long as I possibly can."

What he's doing is not just prosecuting Silver. There's also a case against Malcolm Smith, the former state Senate majority leader.

Bharara also documented abuse of inmates at Rikers Island. He prosecuted terrorism and financial malfeasance, though some critics grumble that on that score, he's not aggressive enough.

"Simply because a lot of people angrily suggest without proof beyond a reasonable doubt that certain people should go to jail because there has been some pain - and there's no doubt, as I described, the pain was felt by me personally and others also - that's not enough," he said in March 2014.

Still, he's the adored topic of numerous stories, landing on Time Magazine's cover and even getting a Bruce Springsteen shoutout.

"Let's just say when I'm down, I play that clip and it makes me happy," Bharara told NY1 in March 2014.

Bharara was born in India and came here as a toddler. As he told NY1's Budd Mishkin last year, his father had to give up everything in the 1947 partition of India.

"And so my dad is a big believer in being self-made, and a big believer in education," Bharara said.

Bharara went to Harvard, then Columbia Law. He was Sen. Charles Schumer's top counsel.

He's been U.S. attorney since President Barack Obama nominated him in 2009.

Two decades ago, another U.S. attorney catapulted to the mayor's office. So last summer, we asked Bharara again about his interest in repeating history.

 

Bharara: No.

Errol Louis: No.

Bharara: No.

Louis: Unequivocal.

Bharara: Unequivocal.

Louis: Not maybe. Not your thing.

Bharara: Not maybe. No.

 

Maybe more flattery will change his mind.

Charter Spectrum customers get full access
to all our video, including our live stream.
 

Tune to Spectrum New NY1 on TV, online, online, or on Local On Demand Channel 1020 for:

Road to City Hall, Mon.-Fri. at 7pm and 10pm
In Focus with Cheryl Wills, Sun. at 10:30am & 3:30pm
• On Stage, Sat.-Sun. 9:30am & 7:30pm + Tues. 12:30am
Sports on 1, nightly at 11:35pm and 4am