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US President-elect Donald Trump to retain high-profile Indian American Prosecutor Preet Bharara appointed by Obama

Bharara has the reputation of being a crusader against financial institutions

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President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump at the White House, Nov. 10, 2016. (Photo: J. Oni / VOA)

New York, Dec 1 2016: US President-elect Donald Trump is going to keep Indian American Preet Bharara in his job as a high-profile federal prosecutor with charge of Wall Street and important security matters in New York.

Bharara, who was appointed by President Barack Obama, told reporters after meeting with the president-elect on Wednesday that Trump asked him to continue as the US District Attorney for Southern New York and “I agreed to stay on.”

Bharara has the reputation of being a crusader against financial institutions that have been blamed for the recent great recession and have been attacked by Trump for causing economic hardship around the nation.

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 He has taken action against major banks like Citibank and JP Morgan Chase, forcing them to pay billions of dollars to the government to settle the cases.

He has prosecuted over 100 of Wall Street executives for criminal activities like stock trading irregularities using insider information.

Trump retains officer from Obama administration
Prosecutor Preet Bharara, Wikimedia

They include several Indians like Rajat Gupta, the former head of the consulting company McKinsey and Goldman Sachs director, who served two years in jail for colluding with the Sri Lankan American hedge fund operator Raj Rajaratnam in a stock market scam.

The meeting with Trump and the offer to have Bharara is unusual both because he is a Democrat and an Obama appointee – the only one so far that the Republican has said he will keep on – and because despite its visibility, the job is not of the high-level that Trump is currently trying to fill.

Therefore, it shows the importance Trump attaches to the areas of potential prosecution that Bharara oversees.

Like Bharara, Trump is highly critical of Wall Street manipulations and irregularities, saying: “Wall Street has caused tremendous problems for us.”

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“I’m not going to let Wall Street get away with murder,” Trump has declared, and Bharara would be his minion to ensure that.

Bharara has prosecuted several New York politicians for corruption. The senior-most among them is state assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, a Democrat, who was given a 12-year sentence for corruption.

Bharara, whose full name is Preetinder Preet Singh Bharara, was born in Ferozepore in 1968 and immigrated to the US as a child.

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 He sparked a diplomatic stand-off between India and the United States in 2013 when he had a Dalit Indian diplomat, Devyani Khobragade, arrested and strip-searched over allegations that she had made a false statement in the visa application for her maid.

Other diplomats accused of similar offenses were not similarly treated by Bharara and the humiliating action against Khobragade, the Deputy Consul General in New York, brought retaliatory action against by India against US diplomats in India.

Secretary of State John Kerry expressed regret for the incident and the matter was diplomatically resolved with her being allowed to leave the US without prosecution.

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Citibank paid a $158 million fine to settle a case Bharara brought against it for misleading the government about loans and in another case made a $7 billion payment to the government after Bharara began investigating its Mexican unit.

JP Morgan Chase was made to forfeit $7 billion for failing to inform authorities about a massive investment fraud by a client. (IANS)

Next Story

Economy to Overcome Other Issues in 2020, says Trump

President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger. 

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President Donald Trump
U.S. President Donald Trump attends a Keep America Great Rally at the Rupp Arena in Lexington, Kentucky, U.S. VOA

“It’s the economy, stupid” has been a catchphrase of U.S. presidential politics since the 1992 campaign, when Bill Clinton unseated incumbent George H.W. Bush. Nearly three decades later, U.S. President Donald Trump is hoping that simple message in 2020 will help foil his eventual Democratic Party challenger.

Trump — in tweets, at political rallies and in remarks to reporters — constantly emphasizes the performance of the U.S. economy, stock market surges, low unemployment rates and his tax cuts to boast he is doing a great job as president.

Economists and political analysts are divided on whether that message will enable the incumbent to stay in office beyond January 2021.

Culture war, partisan split

Ever since Clinton, “we’ve all kind of assumed that should be true. And I think for the most part, it is,” said Ryan McMaken, senior editor and economist at the Mises Institute, a politics and economics research group in Alabama. He cautioned, though, that Trump finds himself on one side of a culture war that his predecessors did not have to confront, as well as a deep partisan divide on consumer confidence.

Walmart Supercentre
Balo Balogun labels items in preparation for a holiday sale at a Walmart Supercenter, in Las Vegas. Black Friday once again kicks off the start of the holiday shopping season. But it will be the shortest season since 2013 because of Thanksgiving falling on the fourth Thursday in November, the latest possible date it can be. VOA

Policy analyst James Pethokoukis at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, a public policy research group, also is cautious about the economy prevailing over all other issues.

“Just having a strong economy is not going to guarantee you re-election,” he said. “People often point back to the 2000 election, which occurred after a decade of tremendous economic growth any way you want to measure it — gross domestic product, jobs and wage growth. And yet, [Clinton’s vice president] Al Gore still lost that election to George W. Bush.”

McMaken questioned whether voters in key swing states — such as Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio — who cast ballots for Trump in 2016 were experiencing enough of the touted economic performance to vote again for the president.

Overall, however, “it’s not a bad economy to run on if you’re Donald Trump,” said Pethokoukis.

Trump, said to have concerns about the direction of the economy ahead of next November’s election, will likely push for more tax cuts, passage of a renegotiated North American trade pact and continued pressure on the country’s central banking system, the Federal Reserve, to lower interest rates.

A LB Steel LLC's employee manufactures a component
A LB Steel LLC’s employee manufactures a component for new Amtrak Acela trains built in partnership with Alstom in Harvey, Illinois, U.S. VOA

Trouble ahead?

There are rumblings of economic storm clouds on the horizon. The impact can be seen in Trump’s trade war with China, which has hurt U.S. farmers and raised prices for consumer goods. It’s also reflected in the Institute for Supply Management’s Manufacturing Index, an underperforming U.S. Private Sector Job Quality Index and a ballooning record national debt, in addition to the worrying level of money owed to creditors by middle-class Americans.

“We’ve actually been in a sort of a manufacturing recession, seen a shrinkage of factory jobs, the exact kinds of jobs that I’m sure that people voting for the president thought would be a lot better now,” said Pethokoukis.

So far, none of this has prompted a major stock market correction.

“There seems to be a lot of adaptations in the markets to Trump’s America. That may work to his advantage,” said the Mises Institute’s McMaken.

Analysts note a lack of emphasis on economic platforms so far by the leading Democratic U.S. presidential candidates seeking to oust Trump next year.

But such a platform is likely to be touted when the opposition party holds its convention next July in Milwaukee and picks its campaign ticket. Pethokoukis suggested the Democratic Party should devise a plan with a goal to boost American worker productivity, which has flatlined for years.

The great divide

McMaken pointed out that the widening chasm between the well-off and those struggling economically in the United States makes Trump vulnerable — something emphasized by left-leaning Democratic presidential contenders such as Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.

Donald Trump says the economy isn't doing well
Tents and tarps erected by homeless people are shown along sidewalks and streets in the skid row area of downtown Los Angeles, California, U.S. VOA

“On the ground level, I would say just in general, the economy isn’t doing as well,” concluded McMaken.

ALSO READ: Greed For Power May Demolish The Democracy

Amid an impeachment drive by the Democrats, Trump is repeatedly hammering on a specific message to those questioning his suitability for office while being impressed with the performance of their pension accounts during his presidency.

“Love me or hate me, you’ve got to vote for me,” Trump said at a rally in New Hampshire in August, warning that Americans’ investments portfolios would go “down the tubes” if he lost next year’s election. (VOA)