Top U.S. Prosecutor to Stay on Board in Trump’s Gotham

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By ADAM KLASFELD

MANHATTAN (CN) — Facing sharp criticism about global conflicts of interest involving his family businesses, President-elect Donald Trump invited a federal prosecutor with a strong anti-corruption record to stay on board in his hometown: Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara.

Over the past few years, Bharara has brought down New York’s most powerful politicians in a series of prosecutions that the tabloids dubbed “Albany on Trial.”

Those who have fallen so far include the two top legislators from two branches of state government: former Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and ex-state Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos.

Bharara’s anti-corruption crusade already has rattled the state’s executive branch, indicting Joseph Percoco, the former “right-hand man” of sitting Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

As he left Trump Tower this afternoon, Bharara opined in a video broadcast of his remarks in the lobby that the president-elect asked him to keep his post “presumably because he’s a New Yorker and is aware of all this office has done over the past seven years.”

Bharara trumpeted his prosecutors’ reputation for working “independently, without fear or favor for the last seven years.”

“We had a good meeting,” he said. “I said I would absolutely consider staying on. I agreed to stay on. I have already spoken to Sen. Sessions, who as you know is the nominee for the Attorney General. He also asked to stay on, and so I expect that I’ll be continuing to work at the Southern District of New York.”

Trump’s choice of Sen. Jeff Sessions as U.S. attorney general raised eyebrows on Nov. 18, given the Alabama senator’s history of racist remarks and flirtation with the Ku Klux Klan.

Sessions once said he found the group fine “until I found out they smoked pot.”

Bharara’s pick soothed some fears wrought by Trump’s prosecutorial picks so far, also providing the president-elect cover from a torrent of criticism about how his family’s business enterprises could lead to unprecedented entanglements around the globe.

On Twitter this morning, Trump vowed to leave his business “in total.”

“I feel it is visually important, as President, to in no way have a conflict of interest with my various businesses,” he said in an optics-focused Tweet.

Trump’s posts revealed few details about his actual plan to extricate himself from those conflicts, which he promised to reveal at a “major news conference” on Dec. 15.

He did not signal whether his children will still be involved in the Trump Organization, White House, or a combination of the two.