Attorney General Bill Barr just revealed that former U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who was abruptly fired last week, was an “interim” prosecutor that was “living on borrowed time.”
Barr explained the truth behind last weekend’s controversial event during an NPR interview published on Thursday.
A series of unfortunate events
Last weekend, Barr announced that Berman was planning to resign his position as the U.S. Attorney of the South District of New York, one of the most high-profile positions within the Justice Department.
Berman denied that he had any intention of doing so just hours after Barr’s announcement, kicking off a scuffle between Barr, Trump, and Berman.
In the end, Barr requested President Trump to formally fire Berman — Barr did not have the power to do so himself — and Berman agreed to leave the post soon after. House Democrats immediately launched an investigation into Barr’s actions, claiming that he had abused his power to order the removal of Berman.
Living on borrowed time
Barr explained the ugly scene in his interview with NPR. “He was appointed by the court as a temporary U.S. attorney holding the fort,” Barr explained. “He was living on borrowed time from the beginning.”
Berman was first installed as the SDNY prosecutor in January of 2018 after Donald Trump fired his predecessor, Preet Bharara. Berman was never officially nominated and was placed — along with over a dozen other prosectors nationwide — as an interim appointment.
Barr explained that Trump had finally nominated current Chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, Jay Clayton, as the official replacement that would be confirmed by the Senate to the position, Barr saw the opportunity to get a “strong person” into the office.
“I certainly was aware that given the current environment, anytime you make a personnel move, you know, conspiracy theorists will suggest that there’s something, there’s some ulterior motive involved,” Barr explained. “But I felt this was actually a good time to do it because I was not aware of anything that should, in reality, give rise to that.”
Democrats have long accused Barr of acting as Donald Trump’s attack dog and jumped at the opportunity to investigate and potentially impeach Barr for his conduct toward Berman.
House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) announced his intention to subpoena Barr to testify before the committee earlier this week and indicated that the House could pursue impeachment over the matter. “I think the weight of the evidence and of what’s happened leads to that conclusion,” Nadler told CNN on Wednesday.
Barr’s spokesperson, Kerry Kupec, told Fox News on Thursday that Democrats’ eagerness to launch an impeachment probe is a “political thing,” but confirmed that Barr will cooperate with House Democrats’ request to testify in July.