Top US attorney Geoffrey Berman resists attempt to oust him

Top US attorney Geoffrey Berman resists attempt to oust him
Geoffrey Berman resists attempt to oust him. Source: Getty Images
3 Min Read

Daily US Times: A top federal prosecutor has issued a statement denying the US justice department announced that he was stepping down. Geoffrey Berman, the US Attorney in Manhattan, said he came to know the announcement in a press release issued by US Attorney-General William Barr on Friday evening.

Mr Barr gave no reason for the decision, said Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Jay Clayton would be nominated to succeed Mr Berman.

This is considered a stunning development. Geoffrey Berman is a top prosecutor in the country and has overseen the prosecution of a number of US President Donald Trump’s associates since he took office in 2018.

They include President Trump’s election campaign finance fraud, his former lawyer Michael Cohen, who has served a prison sentence for lying to Congress, the US legislature. Mr Berman’s department has also been investigating the conduct of Mr Trump’s current personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani.

He is also leading the investigation into Jeffrey Epstein and who earlier this month accused Prince Andrew of “shutting the door” on his probe.

Mr Berman said in his statement that he had “no intention of resigning”, adding he would only step down when a successor had been confirmed by Congress.

It is not clear whether President Trump has the legal authority to remove Mr Berman, as he was appointed to his position by a court.

Senior leaders of the Democratic Party have accused Mr Barr of politicising the US Justice Department and making legal decisions at the behest of Donald Trump.

The row comes days after a review of former National Security Adviser John Bolton’s book claimed President Trump had pressed Mr Berman’s office to halt an investigation into the Turkish Halkbank in a bid to make a deal with Turkey’s president.

What did Mr Barr say in his press release?

The US AG said in his statement that Mr Berman was “stepping down” after two-and-a-half years in the post. Mr Barr is a close ally of the president.

Mr Barr said Mr Berman had “done an excellent job”, achieving “many successes on consequential civil and criminal matters”, but gave no explanation for his resignation.

He said, the President intended to nominate Mr Clayton, a man who has never served as a federal prosecutor, as Mr Berman’s successor.

Mr Barr said Mr Clayton’s “management experience and expertise in financial regulation give him an ideal background” to lead the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.

You may read: Is the coronavirus pandemic getting worse in the US?