Breaking on @MSNBC: U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman has just released a statement saying, “I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney. I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position.”
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) June 20, 2020
Courtesy of CNN:
In a fast-escalating crisis Friday night, Attorney General William Barr tried to oust Geoffrey Berman, the powerful US attorney for the Southern District of New York who has investigated a number of associates of President Donald Trump, but Berman defied him by refusing to step down.
In an extraordinary statement sent roughly an hour after Barr said Berman was set to leave the office, Berman said he had learned of his purported exit from a press release.
“I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position, to which I was appointed by the Judges of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York. I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate,” Berman said. “Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption.”
The standoff opens up a fresh crisis at the Justice Department, places the leadership of the most prominent federal prosecutors office outside Washington in a precarious position and again raises questions about Barr’s willingness to steer the department to suit Trump’s political agenda.
The timing of the move, announced after 9 p.m. ET, immediately raised questions about the circumstances regarding Berman’s departure.
Any forced ouster of Berman is likely to draw scrutiny inside the US attorney’s office and among career prosecutors. He has been the US attorney for Manhattan since 2018, and under his leadership, his office prosecuted Trump’s former attorney Michael Cohen, is investigating top Trump confidante Rudy Giuliani and indicted the former New York mayor’s associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman.
Tensions between the New York and Washington offices have grown with Berman and Barr butting heads over the handling of some cases, including the indictment of Turkish bank Halkbank.
Last fall, Justice Department officials discussed replacing Berman with Ed O’Callaghan, a senior official, but then prosecutors indicted the Giuliani associates, a move that appeared to extend Berman’s tenure.
You know I am just a layman when it comes to these legal maneuverings, but it certainly appears to me that Trump is having this guy punished for daring to investigate and indict some of his associates.
I mean for what other reason does any of this really make sense?