Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara is not doing much to encourage speculation that he’s on the short list to be the next attorney general. And he’s not exactly discouraging it either.
Bharara’s profile has grown steadily in his five years as head of one of the nation’s most high-profile federal prosecutor’s offices. He made the cover of Time magazine for his aggressive pursuit of Wall Street fraudsters. He’s overseen the biggest civilian terrorism cases. And he stood up to Gov. Andrew Cuomo over his dismantling of an anti-corruption commission.
As recently as this week, Bharara used humor to deflect speculation he’s among a handful of potential candidates for the job being vacated by Attorney General Eric Holder — a promotion that would make him the first Indian-American ever to serve on the cabinet.
“So here’s the problem: When you have a very proud Indian mother and a vacancy seems to be coming open, she will call all the newspapers and say please put me on the list,” he said at a recent public appearance. “So I’ve told my mom to stop calling.”
He added: “I’m very happy doing my job. And that’s all I’m going to say.”
Still, Bharara sounded interested in the job, signaling that if he was in charge, the Justice Department would keep its current course.
“The focus on national security, the focus on cyber-crime, the focus on civil rights — I think all those things are incredibly important,” he said. “My sense is the priorities are pretty good and in line with how we go about things.”