Trump's Firing of Berman is of Obstruction of Justice, But Berman Just Stepped Down

Mish

The Trump Administration's attempt to force out  Geoffrey S. Berman, the U.S. attorney in Manhattan, is more than a bit questionable.

In a politically corrupt lie at best, Attorney General William Barr announced the resignation of Berman on Friday.

There's just one little thing: Berman never resigned.

Another Political Crisis

The New York Times reports Clash Over U.S. Attorney Who Investigated Trump Associates Sets Off Crisis

Mr. Barr’s announcement that Mr. Trump was seeking to replace Mr. Berman was made with no notice. Mr. Barr said the president intended to nominate as Mr. Berman’s successor Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who has never served as a prosecutor. 

Mr. Barr’s attempt to fire Mr. Berman received unexpected pushback from Senator Lindsey Graham, Republican of South Carolina and a close Trump ally.

Mr. Graham, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee — which would approve Mr. Clayton’s nomination — suggested in a statement that he would allow New York’s two Democratic senators to thwart the nomination through a procedural maneuver.

Reasons Trump Upset at Berman

  • Mr. Berman’s office has taken an aggressive approach in a number of cases that have vexed the Trump administration, from the prosecution and guilty plea obtained from Mr. Cohen to a broader investigation, growing out of that inquiry, which focused on Mr. Trump’s private company and others close to him.

  • Mr. Berman’s office also conducted an investigation into Mr. Trump’s inaugural committee, subpoenaing financial and other records as part of a broad inquiry into possible illegal contributions from foreigners.

  • Over the last year, Mr. Berman’s office brought indictments against two close associates of the president’s current lawyer, Mr. Giuliani, and began an investigation into Mr. Giuliani himself, focusing on whether his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on the president’s political rivals violated laws on lobbying for foreign entities.

Smelly Details

Clayton is not a prosecutor, former prosecutor, or a litigator. At least one of those is normally a prerequisite for the job. 

Bolton claims in his new book that Trump was willing to intervene in criminal investigations, including one in Mr. Berman’s office.

The case involves a state-owned Turkish bank accused of violating Iranian sanctions.

“Trump told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District [Manhattan] prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people,” Mr. Bolton wrote.

Trump later dismissed charges against the bank. In return for what?

Barr Changes His Tune

As I was typing this up, Barr changed his claim from Berman resigned to this unbelievable story

Barr Says Trump Fired Manhattan U.S. Attorney

Mr. Barr informed U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman of his decision in a letter, saying he was “surprised and quite disappointed” by Mr. Berman’s statement late Friday night disputing Mr. Barr’s assertion earlier in the evening that he had stepped down.

“Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service,” Mr. Barr wrote in his letter 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.”

Barr lied twice, the first when he said Berman resigned, the second when he claimed Trump already fired him. 

Obstruction of Justice 

Legal grounds for removing Mr. Berman from the post remained unclear. Before Mr. Barr’s letter, people familiar with the situation said the matter was likely to end up before a judge.

Mr. Barr said in his letter Saturday that he had offered Mr. Berman “other senior positions” in government, including running his office’s civil division and the SEC chairman’s spot that Mr. Clayton would leave.

The WSJ said the legal grounds are unclear. 

Firing a prosecutor because he is about to go after your friends is not merely "questionable". 

It's blatant obstruction of justice and perhaps it extends to Trump himself. 

Law and Order? Really?

Dear Mr. President how about some of each?

Appointing a political hack with no prosecution experience as the top Federal New York prosecutor has nothing to do with either Law or Order. 

And not even Attorney General Barr can keep his story straight. 

How Smelly Will This Get?

This is another cover-your-ass move by Trump guaranteed to blow up. 

The question is not whether the details will be smelly, but rather how smelly it gets.

Addendum - Berman Reverses Course

Geoffrey Berman reverses course — now says he will leave SDNY ‘effective immediately’

“In light of A. G. 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 in a statement released Saturday.

How long will Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss last?

Mish

Comments (71)
No. 1-25
njbr
njbr

Within the span of about 18 hours, both Berman and Trump have called William Barr a bald faced liar.

In a country about to celebrate its 244th birthday, here’s something you never thought you’d see; both the boss of the Attorney General and a top subordinate calling the AG a liar.

Zardoz
Zardoz

The choice was clear: Resign or get Epstiened.

ToInfinityandBeyond
ToInfinityandBeyond

Another shameful episode in the Trump presidency. Barr is an absolute disgrace.

Herkie
Herkie

This is a scandal, it is one of the most egregeous examples of graft and corruption in high office in our history, not even Nixon would have made such a naked move to quash justice. And Berman did leave his office AFTER being fired according to the evening news tonight, but he really did not have a choice. It is now up to Pelosi and the democrats in the house to impeach Barr. And possibly Trump. Though this close to the election maybe just Barr. And yep it would sail through the house in two or three weeks but fail in the senate, but that is alright with me because it is just another reason for voters to turn the senate over to the democrats from the Moscow Mitch corruption machine.

Herkie
Herkie

EDIT: This WAS a reply to Sechel's post about Graham, how it ended up at the top of the comments is beyond me.

February 24 Graham was leading by 17 points in his senate contest, March 25 he led by 4 points, and May 27 it was a dead heat tie at 42/42 with his opponent Harrison. I think he is seeing that being Trump's little handmaiden is killing his chances to get reelected.

az_dirt
az_dirt

Barr: Now remember Donnie, you have to say the firing came from you

Trump: Ok, I got it

Barr: I don't have the authority to fire Berman, but you do

Trump: Ok, I got it

Barr: It's very important that we are on the same page

Trump: Ok, I got it

Barr: When the press asks, you tell them the firing came from you

Trump: Ok, I got it

Reporter: Did you fire Berman?

Trump: I didn't do it. I know nothing about it - not my department

ToInfinityandBeyond
ToInfinityandBeyond

Could Berman have accepted his walking papers just to bolster the case against Trump for obstruction of justice? Just a thought.

tokidoki
tokidoki

His firing was confidential.

It's also a national secret so it can't be discussed.

Realist
Realist

What a shit-hole country America has become under Trump. They don’t even attempt to hide the corruption anymore. Land of the free and home of the brave: what a joke. Worst president ever.

njbr
njbr

Tiktok Kpop for the win in Tulsa!

Augustthegreat
Augustthegreat

This circus is getting more and more interesting! Starring chief clown tRump!

Casual_Observer
Casual_Observer

Barr never thought he would have do what he has done. I bet the Republicans thought he could control Trump. Now the fun begins this summer. Who is going step in and tell Trump he can suspend the election ? Because that is what he is looking for. Barr isn't that guy.

JustDaFactsJack
JustDaFactsJack

Let's see if Berman accepts Eliot Engel's invitation to testify before the House about the administration's efforts to place a finger on the scale of justice. I'm sure there are plenty of impeachable offenses and attacks on the integrity of the legal system.

MAGA people won't care -- they'll even applaud. But actual American citizens with actual concern for our constitution and way of life will want to hear a reminder about why this lawless disaster of an administration needs to go... as well as understand just how much damage will need repair over the next decade.

Chocolat38
Chocolat38

Hi Mish, your last 4 posts are about Trump... you used to write about economics and be great at it...my 2 cents: there are better subjects than Trump this, Trump that...Best.

JustASimpleMan
JustASimpleMan
(deleted message)

Well at least he didn't get a longsword through the top of his skill like Beckett did.

That may be a big mistake by Barr and Trump - meddlesome priests can have a word with the man upstairs, but slighted attorneys know where to plant the legal explosives.

Unless the new incumbent is planning to start the job with a big pile of paper and a can of kerosene, there's an awful lot of discoverable documents. I'll bet Berman had the best ones safely stashed under alternative titles for posterity.

RonJ
RonJ

" ...focusing on whether his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on the president’s political rivals violated laws on lobbying for foreign entities."

It is called evidence. Recorded phone calls proved that Biden Quid Pro Quoed to get Shokin, who was doing his job, fired.

Trump was impeached for what Biden actually did. The democrtic Party now supports Quid Pro Quo for president. The Democratic Party is corrupt to the core.

Montana33
Montana33

So much corruption in this Administration. It just never ends.

Freebees2me
Freebees2me

what's the story here? Are the Biden supporters really going to support Trump appointees refusing to leave their positions? This is a joke. Simply highlights how deep the swamp is....

Webej
Webej

Nothingburger. Trump is just hopeless at being a smooth operating and getting his way through back channels, and all the usual sticks and carrots.

Axiom7
Axiom7

Has everyone lost their minds. The AG is a political appointee. If the appointee is on a fishing trip to investigate their boss, they should expected to be fired.

I know everyone hates Trump but this is ridiculous.

crazyworld
crazyworld

lt took\ a very long time for Trumpand his Administration to get rid of a POLITICAL appointee who was quite agressive
overhere it didnt take Macron and his sponsors a long time to get rid of a political collegue named Francois Fillion

GatorGirl
GatorGirl

By law, each United States attorney is subject to removal by the President. Trump can remove any US attorney he wants. Previous administrations have fired most of the prior administrations' appointments or hires. Clinton did it and so did Obama. Why is Trump banned from doing the very same thing the previous presidents have done?

GatorGirl
GatorGirl

Yes, he should testify to Congress why he refused to investigate the Clinton Foundation and Global initiative which failed to pay 2.5 billion is US taxes. Why didn't he investigate them and get a huge sum for the US?


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