A showdown looms at the SDNY as Barr and Trump try to force out U.S. Attorney Berman, who flat-out refuses. He has the law on his side, too.
June 20, 2020

UPDATED: AG Bill Barr has notified U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman that he has asked Trump to fire him, and he has done so. So, Trump fired Berman, and we are back where we were yesterday with a very big exception: the matter of succession. He will now be succeeded by Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, instead of Jay Clayton.


Bill Barr, the most corrupt Attorney General in the history of our country, tried to force U. S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman, in a Friday night news dump. He actually put out a statement that Berman would be leaving, and named his replacement.

Here is the DOJ statement.

Berman was not having it, and put out this tweet on the SDNY Twitter account:

So to recap:

Legal twitter did a real time analysis of whether Barr even has the authority to fire Berman, and the consensus appears to be that he CANNOT. Why? Because Berman was installed without Senate approval, and after a certain amount of months, his appointment was made official by judicial appointment, not Senate confirmation.

AM Joy had great panel to of legal minds to discuss this further:

REID: Attorney General William Barr's latest ploy to use the Department of Justice to go after Donald Trump's enemies, Barr announced late Friday night, that Geoffrey Berman, U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, who oversees investigations into some of Trump's most loyal allies, would be stepping down from his post. Shortly after, in a stunning act of resistance, Berman contradicted Barr in a statement and said he has not resigned, and he has no intention of doing so, and he also went on to say "all investigations will move forward "without delay or interruption." Those investigations have included inquiries into Trump associates, like Michael Cohen, Rudy Giuliani, and his associates Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman. Barr announced that Berman's position would be filled by Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Jay Clayton who, by the way, has never served, even as a prosecutor, in his entire career.

Joining us is a panel of former federal prosecutors, MSNBC contributor Joyce Vance, and legal analyst Paul Butler and MSNBC contributor Barbara McQuade, I will just go in order, Joyce, let me read you what Geoffrey Berman said, this is his full statement: "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." That is pretty gutsy. Unexpected. And what do you make of this entire debacle?

VANCE: So it's absolutely unprecedented, Joy, you know, Berman was court appointed, because they never put him up for Senate confirmation. And that frankly may come back to bite the President here. But what we should keep in mind, is how unusual the announcement itself was, I can't remember a U.S. Attorney, ever announcing a resignation, at 9:00 p.m. on a Friday night. Barr tried to sneak this in under cover of dark. And then the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York turned around, and called him out as a liar on Twitter, of all places. So we're in uncharted territory here.

REID: Yes, and Preet Bharara, who used to run the Southern District of New York, tweeted, "Why does a President get rid of his own hand picked U.S. attorney in SDNY on a Friday night less than five months before the election?"

And let me go to you on this Paul, a CNBC article from my producer, this is from CNBC, about SDNY, one of their investigations of Deutsche Bank. Also last year, "It was reported that the SDNY was among a group of federal investigative offices that were probing whether Deutsche Bank had complied with anti-money laundering and other laws. Deutche Bank has reportedly loaned billions of dollars to Trump's company and companies controlled by the family of his son-in-law Jared Kushner." It is hard to read anything good into that Paul.

BUTLER: The question is why does the President do this? It is because his Attorney General lets him get away with it. He authorizes this conduct.

Oh, and about that half-billion dollars in loans coming due soon? Those are to Deutsche Bank.

There may be a showdown brewing between the DOJ and the White House and the SDNY. Just a reminder:

This is going to get interesting. I am sure details will come out about cases currently under investigation, and people and companies facing charges, now that Barr tried furiously to corruptly force Berman out.

After some back and forth with Bill Barr (and Donald Trump denying that he knew about the firing), Berman has decided to step down. Here is his statement:

Can you help us out?

For 18 years we have been exposing Washington lies and untangling media deceit, but now Facebook is drowning us in an ocean of right wing lies. Please give a one-time or recurring donation, or buy a year's subscription for an ad-free experience. Thank you.


We welcome relevant, respectful comments. Any comments that are sexist or in any other way deemed hateful by our staff will be deleted and constitute grounds for a ban from posting on the site. Please refer to our Terms of Service for information on our posting policy.