In the May 9, 2016, issue of The New Yorker, in “The Showman”, Jeffrey Toobin profiles Preet Bharara, United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Toobin, who was NAFUSA’s keynote speaker last fall in Scottsdale, traces Bharara’s extensive record of investigations and prosecutions of Wall Street figures, the leaders of both houses of the New York legislature and gang members in the Bronx.
As the leader of the “Sovereign District” of New York, Bharara’s office has been involved in some of the most important criminal cases in the country. He has, however, been criticized by some for the lack of any criminal charges against any top executives of the major firms involved in the financial collapse. But Toobin reports,
In a conversation in his office, Bharara rejected the critique. Without going into specifics, he said that his team had looked at Wall Street executives and found no evidence of criminal behavior. “It shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone that the things that we had either been assigned before I got here or had the initiative to look at were looked at really, really carefully and really, really hard by the best people in the office,” he said. “There’s a natural frustration, given how bad the consequences were for the country, that more people didn’t go to prison for it, because it’s clearly true that when you see a bad thing happen, like you see a building go up in flames, you have to wonder if there’s arson. You have to wonder if there’s anybody prosecuting. Now, sometimes it’s not arson, it’s an accident. Sometimes it is arson, and you can’t prove it.”
When Toobin spoke to Eric Holder, he found support for Bharara,
Eric Holder, who, as Attorney General, was Bharara’s boss for six years, made a similar point. “Do you honestly think that Preet Bharara and all those hotshots in the U.S. Attorney’s office would not have made those cases if they could?” he said. “Those are career-making cases. Those cases are your ticket. The fight would have been over who got to try them. We just didn’t have the evidence.”
Toobin is a staff writer for The New Yorker and a senior analyst for CNN. He also served as an AUSA in Brooklyn earlier in his career.