Former United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York Preet Bharara, the Indian American attorney who was fired from his post last year by President Donald Trump, may be considering a run for New York state’s Attorney General, a seat left open by Eric Schneiderman, who stepped down after being accused of physically abusing at least two women, according to speculation making the rounds.
Since his abrupt departure from the U.S. Attorney’s office, where he was known as the “Sheriff of Wall Street” for taking down some of the biggest names in finance, Bharara has been running a podcast. But as former New York Attorney General Schneiderman stepped down – as accusations arose of him choking and slapping two women, Manning Barrish and Tanya Selvaratnam, and two others who were not named – speculation quickly made the rounds that Bharara would run in the November election to replace the disgraced man.
Schneiderman has stated he engaged in role-play during consensual sex, but would never batter a woman. He nevertheless resigned (see earlier India-West story here).
Speaking on a podcast May 9, Bharara said he was uncomfortable with the idea of entering politics. "The question about what I'll do in respect to the election in November, that's for another day.”
“That said, I think politics is not really for me but it is an important job and it’s especially important now when the rule of law is under attack. So it is a tough thing to think about. So we'll see,” he said, leaving himself wiggle room to consider the possibility.
"Frankly, I will tell you I don't know that I want that job. I've said many times that politics is not my cup of tea. It's not,” said Bharara.
Bharara said he also does want to engage in choosing Schneiderman’s interim successor. "It does have the look and feel of a backroom deal, and that's something I don't want to be a part of," said Bharara.
He instead called for Schneiderman's current interim replacement, Barbara Underwood, to stay on through the election, as reported by the New York Daily News.
The New York state Legislature is moving quickly to fill the position, reported Newsday.
Some of the leading candidates for the legislature’s appointment — a job that could lend an advantage in the fall elections — are New York City Public Advocate Letitia James, Rep. Kathleen Rice, and Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, D-Manhattan.
“Bharara certainly has an impressive resume, but he’s untested as a candidate,” Steven Greenberg of the Siena Research Institute poll told Newsday. “He likely would start with more name recognition among voters than many of the other candidates; however, he will likely start behind on money and organizing for a primary that is just four months away.”
Other political analysts say that Bharara, an immigrant and a Harvard and Columbia graduate, would have more going for him than most candidates.
“To the extent he’s seen as an outsider, that would only enhance his appeal,” Larry Sabato, professor and director of the Center for Politics at the University of Virginia, told Newsday. “Voters, and not just Republicans, tend to believe these days that people steeped in politics for decades are corrupt. Bharara has a very clean image, and he’s seen as a corruption fighter, not a participant.”