Fired by the president, the former US attorney has written his first book. He talks about if and when Trump will face justice and why he fears for his own safety
Preet Bharara is used to dealing with bullies. When he was the US attorney for the southern district of New York, the premier law enforcement body in America, his office prosecuted Osama bin Ladens son-in-law, Crips and Bloods gang leaders and mafia bosses. For going after the infamous arms dealer Viktor Bout he was banned from Russia, and the Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoan once tried to persuade the then US vice-president, Joe Biden, to sack him (he didnt). The TV series Billions is loosely based on his legal battles with a hedge-fund billionaire. As he puts it himself: Neither I nor anyone I know was too afraid to prosecute rich men in suits.
So when Bharara says that even he is now feeling apprehensive about his personal safety, and that his fears relate not to al-Qaida or the Gambino family, but to the president of the United States, it comes as a jolt. I used to have great confidence that my government would protect me, he says. You understood that if you were an American citizen like me, or resident like Jamal Khashoggi, you werent going to be rendered somewhere, you didnt think that if you travelled to Madrid, say, and a BS red notice was issued for you, youd be on your own. Im a citizen of the United States and I served my country for 17 years, yet I dont have that confidence any more. I dont know that the government at its highest level thinks of Americans first its whether you are on his side, or not on his side.
Bharara, 50, has been thinking a lot lately about bullies, and their nemeses those unsung heroes who strive for whats right. His first book, Doing Justice: A Prosecutors Thoughts on Crime, Punishment and the Rule of Law, takes us back to basics, asking us to reflect on what truth means when a serial liar sits in the Oval Office; what civility involves amid all the social media yelling; and how to uphold the rule of law when thuggish behaviour appears to be the order of the day.
The book is a love letter to the southern district of New York (SDNY) that he led for more than seven years until he was abruptly fired by Donald Trump in March 2017. He praises its spirit of independence its moniker is Sovereign District and the committed people who work there, such as the real-life mob-busting cop Kenny McCabe who took on all five families of the Cosa Nostra.