Short list for high-profile US attorney jobs in New York
March 18, 2017 05:34 PM
NEW YORK (AP) — Republican politicians in New York have been putting together short lists of potential candidates to replace the top U.S. prosecutors in New York City, a hub for terrorism, insider-trading and anticorruption trials.
Some of the people being talked about as candidates include the son of a former U.S. attorney general, a former Fox News legal analyst and a prosecutor who had a chance to go after the head of the International Monetary Fund but declined.
Whoever is chosen by the White House to become the U.S. attorneys in Manhattan and Brooklyn will be inheriting a number of high-profile, potentially politically fraught investigations and prosecutions that were previously being overseen by prosecutors appointed by former President Barack Obama who were abruptly dismissed last week.
"I assume everything's going to be expedited," said U.S. Rep. Peter King, a Republican involved in helping draft lists of recommended candidates.
Among the people seen as leading candidates to replace Preet Bharara as the U.S. attorney in Manhattan is Marc Mukasey, the son of former U.S. Attorney General Michael Mukasey, who served in the administration of President George W. Bush.
Mukasey, a former federal prosecutor, is currently the head of the white-collar defense practice at Greenberg Traurig, where he is a partner with former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who's a close ally of President Donald Trump.
Mukasey is Giuliani's favorite for the post, King said, but if picked, he could face potential conflicts of interest because of work he has done as a defense lawyer.
One of his clients has been former Fox News chairman Roger Ailes, who resigned amid sexual harassment allegations. The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan recently subpoenaed a former Fox News employee to testify before a grand jury examining how 21st Century Fox Inc. handled the harassment scandal. Fox News has previously confirmed that it was communicating with federal prosecutors and would cooperate with all inquiries.
Mukasey declined to speak with The Associated Press but told the New York Law Journal last month that while he loved private practice, "if asked to serve my country, that is something I take very seriously."
Other politically charged investigations underway in the Manhattan federal prosecutor's office include a probe of online communications between a teenage girl and former U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner, a Democrat.
U.S. Rep. Dan Donovan, a New York City Republican, said the list of possible candidates to become U.S. attorney in Brooklyn includes Joan Illuzzi, a longtime Manhattan prosecutor who ran unsuccessfully as the Republican candidate for district attorney on Staten Island in 2015.
Illuzzi's recent victories as a prosecutor include the conviction of a man in the decades-old case of 6-year-old Etan Patz, who vanished on his way to school in 1979.
She was also the lead prosecutor in an aborted case in 2011 against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund. Strauss-Kahn had been accused of sexually assaulting an immigrant housekeeper in a hotel. Prosecutors dropped the case after having doubts about the housekeeper's credibility.
If chosen, "she would make an outstanding U.S. attorney," Donovan said.
Other Brooklyn prospects, he said, include former federal prosecutor James McGovern, who held a top spot in the Brooklyn office until leaving last year for private practice, and Arthur Aidala, a former state prosecutor who is now a criminal defense attorney and was a Fox News legal analyst.
During the election, Aidala appeared on the air to discuss and analyze the FBI's handling of the investigation into Hillary Clinton's use of a private email server to handle State Department business.
Illuzzi didn't respond to a request for comment. McGovern and Aidala declined to comment.
Among other things, the new U.S. attorney in Brooklyn may have to decide whether to bring civil rights charges against the white police officer who killed an unarmed black man, Eric Garner, in a chokehold. Garner's last words, "I can't breathe," became a rallying cry for the Black Lives Matter movement.
Typically, U.S. senators or governors of the same party as the president make recommendations for new U.S. attorneys and federal judges. In New York, those positions are held by Democrats.
The Trump administration is working with Federalist Society executive vice president Leonard Leo on the replacement process. Leo advised the president on his recent pick for the Supreme Court, having played a similar role for former President George W. Bush. Leo had no comment.
Associated Press writers Larry Neumeister and Steve Peoples contributed to this report.
By TOM HAYS and COLLEEN LONG
Updated: March 18, 2017 05:34 PM
(Copyright 2017 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)