- Manhattan US attorney Geoffrey Berman said Saturday that he will step down from his position following a tense standoff with Attorney General William Barr.
- Barr initially attempted to oust Berman on Friday night and said the US attorney for the District of New Jersey, Craig Carpenito, will serve in an acting capacity until the Senate confirms a permanent successor.
- But Berman said he would not step down and had “no intention” of resigning until the Senate confirmed a permanent replacement.
- Barr then sent Berman a letter saying President Donald Trump had fired him and that deputy US attorney for the Southern District of New York, Audrey Strauss, would serve as acting US attorney in the meanwhile.
- Berman then said that because Barr had followed “the normal operation of law” by appointing Strauss instead of Carpenito, he would step down.
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Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York, said Saturday that he will step down from his position following a tense standoff with Attorney General William Barr.
“In light of” Barr’s decision “to respect the normal operation of law and have Deputy US Attorney Audrey Strauss become Acting US Attorney, I will be leaving the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, effective immediately,” Berman said in a statement.
The development appears to close a whirlwind 18 hours during which Barr repeatedly tried to oust Berman from his position while Berman resisted.
Here’s a recap:
- Late Friday, the attorney general abruptly announced that Berman was “stepping down” from his role and that Craig Carpenito, the US attorney for the District of New Jersey, would serve in an acting capacity until the Senate confirmed Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Trump’s nominee to replace Berman.
Berman released a statement afterward saying he had no idea he was apparently stepping down until Barr’s announcement. The veteran prosecutor pushed back, saying, “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. Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption,” he added. “I cherish every day that I work with the men and women of this Office to pursue justice without fear or favour – and intend to insure that this Office’s important cases continue unimpeded.”
- Berman went to work at his Manhattan office on Saturday morning, telling reporters outside the SDNY building, “I’m just here to do my job.” Earlier in the day, The Washington Post reported, Berman emailed SDNY employees telling them his only concern is “protecting this office and your work.”
- Later Saturday, Barr told Berman in a letter that at his request, President Donald Trump had fired Berman. He added that “by operation of law,” Audrey Strauss, the deputy Manhattan US attorney, would serve in an acting capacity instead of Carpenito.
- Trump said afterward that he was “not involved” in the decision to dismiss Berman, telling reporters it was “all up to the attorney general.”
- Berman officially resigned on Saturday evening, saying he did so after Barr’s decision to “respect the normal operation of law” and appoint Strauss, instead of Carpenito, to temporarily oversee the SDNY.