Sun | Aug 19, 2018

Fired US attorney in Manhattan replaced by longtime friend

Published:Wednesday | March 15, 2017 | 12:00 AM


Preet Bharara, the high-profile federal prosecutor who was fired by United States President Donald Trump's administration after refusing to resign, has been replaced temporarily by a longtime friend and top adviser.

Joon H. Kim, 45, who had previously served as Bharara's chief counsel, criminal division head and top deputy, will be acting U.S. attorney in the Southern District of New York until Trump nominates a candidate for the job who can be confirmed by the Senate. That process could take months.

In the meantime, Kim, the son of a South Korean diplomat who came up through the ranks of the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan prosecuting organised crime and terrorism cases with his old boss, isn't likely to stop pursuing the kinds of cases that have made the Manhattan prosecutor's office known for its reach and breadth, former colleagues say.

"I think things will continue to hum along," said Lev Dassin, who served as acting U.S. attorney in Manhattan for eight months beginning in December 2008 after Michael Garcia resigned.

Kim's promotion comes after a public confrontation between the Trump administration and Bharara, 48, who was asked to resign last week with 45 other prosecutors appointed during President Barack Obama's administration. Bharara had said in November that Trump had assured him that the job was his to keep.

A spokesman for the prosecutor's office didn't respond to a request for an interview.

Kim's former colleagues said that there was no reason to believe he would pursue existing cases any differently following Bharara's high-profile departure.

"The nice thing here is that Preet and Joon have been working together for quite a while," said Jennifer Rodgers, the executive director of the Center for the Advancement of Public Integrity at Columbia Law School. Rogers once worked with Kim on a case against Peter J. Gotti, a son of the late Gambino crime boss John Gotti Jr.