If Preet Bharara, former U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, was not famous enough already as the “Sheriff of Wall Street” chasing down no-good white-collar criminals and politicians, he has now acquired a national stage to air his views on all things legal after President Trump, in effect, fired him, as Bharara likes to boast, this March.
Bharara accepting CNN’s offer as senior legal analyst on Jake Tapper’s State Of The Union show, gives Indian-Americans yet another reason to be proud of how well the community has done in the newsrooms and talk shows, on the right and left, and including reality TV shows, of big and small American media over the last decade. To name a few high profile media personalities in different genres — Padma Lakshmi, host of Top Chef; Hariharan ‘Hari’ Sreenivasan, a regular of weekday PBS Newshour and weekend anchor; Reena Ninan, daytime anchor on CBSNews and CBSN online; Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN; Rajiv Chandrasekaran, national editor of The Washington Post; Kevin Negandhi, sports anchor on ESPN; Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor at National Review magazine. Bharara joins another Indian-American luminary/fixture on national television in Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday show GPS.
With his deep experience in law, and several high profile prosecutions under his belt, Bharara is well-placed to become a media star. It was time to cash in on his experience.
Bharara fired his latest salvo against President Trump Sept. 20, in the first episode of his podcast, “Stay Tuned With Preet” which aired on his brother’s company site, Pineapple Street Media and WNYC Studio’s Cafe and is available on iTunes. He gave a detailed account of events leading up to his firing, from November to March, and concluded by indicating he may have eventually resigned had he not been fired because he believed the President would do something inappropriate in the future.
“Had I not been fired, and had Donald Trump continued to cultivate a direct personal relationship with me, it’s my strong belief that at some point, given the history, the president of the United States would’ve asked me to do something inappropriate. I don’t know for a fact but that is my strong belief,” Bharara said. He repeated those belief’s in his first appearance on CNN Sept. 24, quoting the examples of Trump’s talk with former FBI director James Comey where he allegedly tried to stop the investigation into possible Russian interference in the U.S. elections; Bharara further alleged that Trump had violated Justice Department guidelines in issuing a pardon for Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.
Since he was fired March 11, Bharara has garnered more than 447,000 followers on Twitter with his pithy observations on the goings on inside and outside the Trump administration, from the Mueller investigation into Russian connections with the Trump campaign to the Spelling Bee, and the latest brouhaha between President Trump and the NFL players “kneeling” before the U.S. flag during the national anthem. “Protestors can be patriots, flag-wavers can be turncoats. Whether you kneel in sadness or salute in lock-step, America is for all Americans,” Bharara commented when Trump called for firing players who protested during the national anthem. “Also, immigrants are as American as apple pie,” he noted this week. He also plays on his immigrant status and his Indian origin in virtually every lecture, commencement speech or talk he’s given.
Bharara seldom fails to acknowledge his Indian parents in his conversations and observations as he unfailingly did when relating the incidence of then President-elect calling him near the end of December. Bharara imitated his father’s Indian accent, saying, “I don’t like that he is calling you Preet. I don’t like it.”
The former U.S. Attorney, who is also a distinguished-scholar-in-residence at New York University School of Law, makes for great television, radio or podcast also because of the humor he injects in his commentaries. On his CNN appearance, when Tapper conceded he himself was not a lawyer so could not comment on the matter of possible “obstruction of justice” by President Trump, Bharara precluded his analysis with, “I am a lawyer and now I get to play one on TV.”