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Most of you know or have heard of Preet Bharara in the context of his day job as Manhattan U.S. Attorney. In this role, Bharara investigates and litigates cases against, among others, alleged terrorists, gang members, mobsters and white collar criminals. And while most of his predecessors and colleagues in the Southern District have long viewed their positions with the AG as steppingstones for even more powerful jobs, it’s obvious to onlookers that Bharara has other things in mind for his career.
It’s not that he doesn’t have aspirations–oh, on the contrary, he does. It’s just that they’re less U.S. Attorney General (or Supreme Court Judge) and more Comedy Central Roastmaster. After hinting at the dream for some time– peppering his press conferences with one liners, pausing for dramatic effect, etc– the prosecutor made his intentions quite clear on Monday night, at what Fox Business’s Charlie Gasparino reports was a “roast” for a former co-worker heading into private practice.
How much does Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara despise the judge who presided over his only loss prosecuting insider trading? So much so that Bharara recently called Naomi Reice Buchwald the “worst federal judge” he’s ever come across. Bharara’s unusually harsh remarks were made Monday night during a private party for an assistant U.S. attorney who is leaving the office to join a law firm. It came just a few days after the acquittal of Rengan Rajaratnam–Bharara’s first defeat during his five-year crackdown on insider trading…Several of the counts against Rengan were eventually dropped; at one point Buchwald allowed what prosecutors called “hearsay” testimony of people who told the court that Rengan said he was innocent when he was initially indicted.
During the party, Bharara hit on the hearsay theme, telling the group that under the hearsay rules, what he was about to say “would not be admissible” just before he called Buchwald “the worst federal judge” in the southern district court system. .
Again, this took place at an event affectionately referred to as a “roast.” If you’re not familiar with that term, Gasparino helpfully explains:
Such events…often take a jovial tone.
We don’t know the timetable for Bharara’s possible career change, or whether he’s going to continue using the U.S. Attorney pulpit to work on his craft. Maybe he’ll fear being pigeonholed, and try his luck as a prop comic, or doing plain-ol stand up. Regardless, it’s clear that the questions re: whether or not he’s upset about the Rengan Rajaratnam loss can stop; while he takes this AG thing seriously, it’s more of a “paying the bills” gig until his true passion takes off.