Preet Bharara’s image as a tough prosecutor and critic of President Trump has put him at the top of the list of possible candidates for New York attorney general among the Resistance. Yet his beef with Trump should disqualify him from consideration.
Voters will choose a new AG this fall, now that Eric Schneiderman is gone. After Trump’s election, the ex-AG went off the deep end, using his office to file lawsuits against the administration, seemingly by the hour. By last Christmas, The New York Times reported, Schneiderman had taken his “100th legal or administrative action” against the Trump folks and congressional Republicans.
The office still seems set on fighting Trump: Just this week, Acting Attorney General Barbara Underwood joined in an amicus brief in a case meant to block Trump’s new rules for funding family-planning programs.
New York doesn’t need yet another top official focused on Trump and pursuing headlines (Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio have that covered). Yet Bharara has spent much of his time since Trump dumped him from his US attorney post bashing the president. Indeed, his refusal to resign when the president asked him to — which forced Trump to fire him — made him the darling of the Resistance.
If Bharara became AG, his hatred for the president could lead him to carry on (or even step up) his office’s War on Trump — instead of focusing on New York.
True, as US attorney, Bharara moved against corrupt local pols and looked to clean up New York. If that were his mission as AG, he might be fine.
But the risk of him devoting his time to legal attacks on Trump instead are too great. Besides, Bharara once said he’s not interested in politicking. Even now, he seems to want to be drafted, possibly on a third-party line, and coronated, rather than do the hard work of campaigning.
Let’s hope he continues to avoid “politics.” Because with Schneiderman gone, New Yorkers have a chance to elect an AG who’ll work for their state — as opposed to for national headlines.
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