June 23, 2017
Preet Bharara’s writing a book
by Ian Dreiblatt
Remember Preet Bharara? You do, but just so you have all the facts in front of you: Bharara was a US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, whom Donald Trump promised, shortly after being elected president, not to fire. Then, less than two months after talking office, Trump demanded letters of resignation from forty-six US Attorneys — including Bharara, who refused to submit one, and was fired the next day. Just last week, ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger and Justin Elliott broke news that Trump’s personal attorney, Marc Kasowitz, had bragged to friends about the crucial role he played in Bharara’s ouster, apparently by telling his boss, “This guy’s going to get you.” (In GQ, Jay Willis has floated a competing theory.)
Now, according to a report by Diamond Naga Siu in Politico yesterday, Bharara has signed a book deal with Knopf, with publication set for early 2019. The publisher is being tight-lipped about Bharara’s compensation, but it’s fair to assume they had to put down the samolean spoon and pick up the samolean shovel for this one.
In a statement distributed by Knopf, Bharara said:
“The approach I lay out applies not only to how federal laws are interpreted and enforced in courts around the country; it also informs how mature, thinking people make decisions in their communities, their workplaces, and their homes. This is not a book just about the law. It is a book about integrity, leadership, decision making, and moral reasoning. It addresses what it means to do the right thing, how to avoid doing the wrong thing, and the role of thoughtfulness in making the best choice.”
Knopf director Sonny Mehta promises the book will be “an essential primer on justice for all Americans.”
Bharara is just the sort of competent, serious, and dignified public official whose competence, seriousness, and dignity make him look downright heroic in the sickly light of the Trump administration’s ineptitude, pettiness, and depravity. After an early career as a private litigator, he worked as an assistant US attorney from 2000 until 2005, when he was hired by Senator Chuck Schumer. Ironically, he rose to national prominence largely through his role assisting the Senate Judiciary Committee’s investigation into the George W. Bush administration’s sudden 2006 firing of seven US Attorneys.
He became a US Attorney himself in 2009. (US Attorneys, by the way, as the job title implies, are attorneys who represent the federal government in legal proceedings.) The Southern District of New York being only and entirely the island of Manhattan, he’s had a very busy couple of years. His dockets have included the Bernie Madoff affair (in which he forced JP Morgan Chase to pony up $1.7 billion—chump change for Chase, but still the largest bank forfeiture in history—and secured five convictions), fraud by the Conference on Jewish Material Claims that bilked the German government of more than $40 million over a decade and a half through claims for nonexistant Holocaust survivors, the corruption case of New York Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver (who was convicted of taking millions in payoffs over his eleven terms in office, despite public criticism of Bharara’s conduct during the trial), the conviction of Osama bin Laden’s advisor and son-in-law, and much more.
Other fun facts include that “Preet” is short for “Preetinder,” that he once shared a Harvard commencement dais with Mindy Kaling, and that, immediately after losing his US Attorney job, he was offered a regular role on Showtime’s hit series “Billions.”
Ian Dreiblatt is the director of digital media at Melville House.