Berman to leave SDNY immediately
Manhattan U.S. attorney Geoffrey Berman announced Saturday evening that he will be leaving his post with the Southern District of New York (SDNY) “effective immediately” after U.S. Attorney General Bill Barr said he had requested his official firing from President Trump.
“In light of Attorney General Barr’s decision to respect the normal operation of law and have Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss become Acting U.S. Attorney, I will be leaving the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, effective immediately,” Berman said in a statement Saturday.
The Justice Department announced late Friday that it would replace Berman and that Berman had “stepped down.”
Later that night, Berman said that he had no intention of resigning from his post.
On Saturday, Barr sent Berman a letter notifying him that President Trump had agreed to fire him, saying he had “chosen public spectacle over public service.”
“Because you have declared that you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the President to remove you as of today, and he has done so,” Barr wrote.
It was not initially clear if Berman will challenge his ouster in court.
The Trump administration plans to nominate Jay Clayton, the current chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to permanently fill the position.
Barr wrote in the letter that Berman’s deputy, Audrey Strauss, will assume his position.
In his resignation statement, Berman said “I could leave the District in no better hands than Audrey’s.”
“She is the smartest, most principled, and effective lawyer with whom I have ever had the privilege of working,” Berman wrote.”And I know that under her leadership, this Office’s unparalleled AUSAs, investigators, paralegals, and staff will continue to safeguard the Southern District’s enduring tradition of integrity and independence.”
Berman has led several investigations into president Trump’s associates, including his current and former attorneys, Rudy Guliani and Michael Cohen.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) announced on Saturday that the committee will launch an immediate investigation into Berman’s dismissal, accusing the administration of politicizing the justice system.