Attorney General Bill Barr announced on Saturday that Donald Trump has fired U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman, who has held the position in the Southern District of New York since 2018.
The announcement comes after Barr on Friday said that Berman had chosen to resign from the office. Berman refuted Barr’s Friday statement, claiming that he would not step down until the Senate had confirmed a new nominee.
Barr originally announced on Friday evening that Trump had nominated a replacement for the position that Berman was stepping down from. Berman immediately issued a statement contradicting Barr’s claim, saying that the announcement of his own resignation was news to him.
“I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney,” Berman said in his 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 continued. Berman has led several high-profile investigations into the Trump allies such as Michael Cohen and Rudy Giuliani. Berman is also said to be conducting an investigation into Deutch Bank loans to the Trump organization.
Barr clarified on Saturday that Donald Trump had ordered the firing of Berman. “Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service,” Barr said in a one-page letter on Saturday. “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.”
Though Berman was initially defiant, he issued a response confirming that he will leave the office after Trump’s final decision. “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 Saturday evening.
Democrats immediately exploded in rage at the news of Berman’s removal on Saturday, claiming that Trump and Barr had worked together to remove Berman to halt the ongoing investigations.
Barr responded on Saturday that an acting U.S. attorney will be installed and investigations will continue unimpeded. He also made it clear that normal routes of accountability will be upheld. “I fully expect that the office will continue to handle all cases in the normal course and pursuant to the Department’s applicable standards, policies, and guidance,” Barr said.
“Going forward, if any actions or decisions are taken that office supervisors conclude are improper interference with a case, that information should be provided immediately to Michael Horowitz, the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, whom I am authorizing to review any such claim.”
Despite the clarification, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) — who is reportedly auditioning for the position of Joe Biden’s vice president — immediately cried foul, calling for an immediate resignation and impeachment of Barr.
“This is a naked abuse of power,” Warren tweeted on Saturday. “I’ve already called for AG William Barr to resign & for Congress to impeach him. Congress should pass my bill now to defund Barr’s authority to interfere with matters related to Trump, his family, & his campaign.”