President Donald Trump has sent the word that he wants him gone, the attorney for the Southern District of New York is fighting.
Geoffrey Berman, the attorney whose office prosecuted Jeffrey Epstein on charges of child sex trafficking, said he will not step down, after a press release from the Department of Justice indicated that he was.
“I learned in a press release from the Attorney General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney, Berman said.
“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,” he said.
“I will step down when a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate,” he said. “Until then, our investigations will move forward without delay or interruption.”
“I cherish every day that I work with the men and women of this Office to pursue justice without fear or favor — and intend to ensure that this Office’s important cases continue unimpeded,” he said.
The message came around an hour after Berman was said to have “stepped down” in a letter issued by Attorney General Bill Barr’s Justice Department, CNN reported.
A Justice Department official told CNN that Berman was offered other positions at Justice, including the head of the civil division, where assistant Attorney General Jody Hunt abruptly announced his departure this week. Berman declined.
A second source with knowledge of the matter said Berman was asked to resign and refused. Barr asked Berman to resign in an in-person meeting in New York on Friday, the source said.
“I am pleased to announce that President Trump intends to nominate Jay Clayton, currently the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to serve as the next United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York,” Barr said in a press release on Friday as he lauded the credentials of Berman’s replacement.
“On my recommendation, the President has appointed Craig Carpenito, currently the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, to serve as the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, while the Senate is considering Jay Clayton’s nomination. This appointment will be effective July 3, and Craig will work closely with the outgoing United States Attorney to ensure a smooth transition. I thank Craig for his continued service and for taking on this important interim responsibility,” he said.
“Finally, I thank Geoffrey Berman, who is stepping down after two-and-a-half years of service as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. With tenacity and savvy, Geoff has done an excellent job leading one of our nation’s most significant U.S. Attorney’s Offices, achieving many successes on consequential civil and criminal matters. I appreciate his service to the Department of Justice and our nation, and I wish him well in the future,” he said.
Berman has investigated several of President Trump’s associates including Michael Cohen and former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani.
Preet Bharara, a CNN senior legal analyst and the man Berman replaced as the SDNY attorney, was not a fan of the president’s decision.
He said the announcement was a “highly irregular thing to do … when there are all sorts of investigations swirling around.”
“The President, his associates, there may be anger about the way that some of the prior investigations were conducted, with respect to his former lawyer Michael Cohen and others,” he said.
And Democrats were furious with the attempted firing and demanded answers.
“This late Friday night dismissal reeks of potential corruption of the legal process. What is angering President Trump? A previous action by this U.S. Attorney or one that is ongoing?” Senate Minority Leader and New York Sen. Charles Schumer said.
“America is right to expect the worst of Bill Barr, who has repeatedly interfered in criminal investigations on Trump’s behalf,” House Judiciary Chairman Rep. Jerry Nadler said.
“We have a hearing on this topic on Wednesday. We welcome Mr. Berman’s testimony and will invite him to testify.,” he said.