Donald Trump wasted little time after his presidential win in announcing he would reappoint public corruption prober Preet Bharara as U.S. attorney for the Southern District, but there’s been no word on who will run the Eastern District prosecutor’s office.
New York’s senior senator, Chuck Schumer, was the liaison between Trump and Bharara, once one of Schumer’s top aides in the Senate. But that was when the leader of the Democratic minority and Trump were still playing nice. With the two now on the outs, Republican Party leaders and those close to Trump are throwing all sorts of names into the hat. Robert Capers, who replaced Loretta Lynch when she became the U.S. attorney general, surely is not staying on.
Dozens of names are circulating, and a few are rising to the top. Some have interviewed with GOP representatives Pete King and Lee Zeldin, who are likely to have a say in the pick.
Seth Ducharme, chief of the National Security and Cybercrime Section in Brooklyn, is the only current assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District under serious consideration.
Others possible candidates include Steven Losquadro, who practices civil and criminal law in Rocky Point and was a prosecutor in the Manhattan district attorney’s office. Losquadro told The Point he “was honored” to be under consideration.
Another is Christopher McGrath, who has lost two bids for State Senate but is well known in state legal circles and is a former head of the Nassau County Bar Association.
Joan Illuzzi, who was a star in the Manhattan DA’s office before leaving to make an unsuccessful run for Staten Island district attorney in 2015, is also interested. She was hired back by the DA’s office as head of its Hate Crimes Unit and to resolve the case of Etan Patz, which ended this week with the conviction of Pedro Hernandez.
Experience as a prosecutor in the federal system, however, is often considered crucial. Marc Mukasey, whose father, Michael, was U.S. attorney general under George W. Bush, does have that on his resume. Mukasey specializes in white-collar criminal defense work and is very close to Rudy Giuliani. Mukasey has defended executives involved in the explosion of the Deepwater Horizon oil rig and the fraud case involving the mortgages sold by Countrywide Financial. Mukasey was a prosecutor for eight years in the Southern District.
Now that Trump’s attorney general, Jeff Sessions, is in place, the pace for filling the U.S. attorney spots is expected to get on the fast track. Will Sessions, a former senator from Alabama, take a call from a current senator from Brooklyn about who is the best fit for the job? And if he doesn’t, will Schumer use the power of the Senate’s “blue slip” to put a permanent hold on the nomination?
This first appeared in The Point, the editorial board’s daily newsletter for insiders. To subscribe, click here.