The decision by President-elect Donald Trump to ask Preet Bharara to stay on as U.S. attorney in Manhattan sends a strong message that the Trump administration is going to be aggressive in prosecuting white-collar crime and corporate misconduct, according to former U.S. Attorney John Wood.
“Most U.S. attorneys are asked to resign when a new president enters office, and I expect that to be the case for most of the 93 U.S. attorneys across the country,” says Wood, now a partner in the Kansas City and Washington, D.C., offices of Hughes Hubbard & Reed.
But the decision to keep Bharara, a Barack Obama appointee, in the office “looks like a sign that Trump wants the Department of Justice to hold corporate executives, Wall Street firms and New York politicians accountable if they engage in illegal activity,” Wood adds.
Wood acknowledges that Trump is appointing several wealthy bankers and businesspeople to senior positions in his administration. For example, on Wednesday Trump named Steven Mnuchin, a former partner at Goldman Sachs Group Inc., to be Treasury secretary.