A joint FBI-U.S. Attorney probe of the Clinton Foundation has begun, and the federal prosecutor leading the charge has a history of taking down politicians.
Preet Bharara, dubbed “The Showman” in The New Yorker for his penchant for theatrics and wisecracks, runs the U.S. Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York and has racked up an impressive number of corruption convictions — from Wall Street bankers, hedge funds, and New York organized crime to prominent politicians.
The FBI has enlisted Bharara’s office (along with others) in part for his prosecutorial aggressiveness that career DOJ attorneys may lack.
The New York Times and other media outlets labeled him a “crusader” for his courtroom victories against the two most powerful figures in the New York legislature in 2015. Bharara took on New York Assembly Speaker, Sheldon Silver, in office since 1994, for funneling taxpayer money through his law firm.
Silver had also been receiving kickbacks from two firms that wanted the Speaker to vote in their favor on bills regarding subsidies and tax rates. Bharara’s team uncovered the corruption and had Silver arrested on January 22, 2015.
Just four months later, Bharara indicted the New York Senate Majority Leader, Dean Skelos, on corruption charges. In a more comedic case, Sen. Skelos had used his political position to pressure contractors to hire his son, Adam, who rarely showed up for work.
In its profile of Bharara in May, The New Yorker reported a wiretapped conversation between the father and son that revealed Bharara’s relentlessness as a prosecutor: “You can’t talk normally because it’s like fucking Preet Bharara is listening to every fucking phone call,” Adam Skelos lamented. “It’s just fucking frustrating.”
“It is,” Sen. Skelos responded.
The article cites prominent defense attorney, Henry Mazurek, who criticized Bharara’s tendency to make media spectacles out of cases on the grounds that “there are huge reputational and professional repercussions for [the accused]. People think that they can’t fight the government at that point.”
Former Bharara deputy, Richard Zabel, defended their actions. “Sometimes it’s hard for the public to understand why something is a crime,” he told The New Yorker. “Silver and Skelos were complicated and opaque crimes, and we wanted them to be laid out pretty clearly.”
Using his momentum from these high profile corruption busts, Bharara has begun a probe into the dealings of Democratic Mayor of New York City Bill de Blasio. His office is investigating suspicious fundraising habits coming from the mayor’s office in addition to a possible pay-for-play scheme involving the sale of a hospital for redevelopment into housing.
Bharara recently continued his crusade by launching a corruption investigation into New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. Minutes after Sen. Skelos received his sentence, The New York Post reported Bharara’s claim that “The only thing that is truly bipartisan in Albany right now is the corruption.” He made it clear in his statement that he will continue the battle against the “three men in a room,” which refers to the power of the Assembly and Senate leaders and the governor.
Viktor Bout, one of the most notorious arms traffickers in the world, is now serving a 25-year sentence thanks to Bharara’s prosecutorial genius. His office also secured a 10-year sentence for Bernie Madoff’s brother, Peter Madoff, for his role in the biggest fraudulent scheme in U.S. history.
The Clinton Foundation has collected $2 billion in donations from all over the world that sparked FBI suspicion, according to CNN.
During a congressional hearing regarding FBI Director Jim Comey’s decision not to recommend charges for Hillary Clinton’s email scandal, TheDCNF reported Republican Representative from Utah Jason Chaffetz asking Comey, “Was the Clinton Foundation tied into this investigation?”
“I’m not going to answer that,” Comey replied.
Since being enlisted by the FBI into this investigation, Bharara’s spokesman, Nicholas Biase, told The Daily Caller News Foundation he would “decline comment” on the investigation.
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