Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is calling for an investigation into the Trump administration’s firing of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman. (June 22)
WASHINGTON – Geoffrey Berman, whose unceremonious firing as head of the Justice Department’s most prestigious office remains clouded with questions, will speak to lawmakers Thursday about the circumstances surrounding his ouster, a spokesperson said.
Manhattan’s former chief federal prosecutor will testify behind closed-doors before the House Judiciary Committee, which has been investigating allegations of political interference within the Justice Department. His testimony begins at noon ET.
The potentially dramatic testimony from Berman, whose office has investigated and prosecuted several of President Donald Trump’s allies, could raise further questions about the Justice Department’s independence from a White House that has purged watchdogs, whistleblowers and others seen as disloyal.
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Berman was fired last month after an extraordinary clash with Attorney General William Barr, who had announced that Berman was stepping down to make way for Trump’s new nominee to lead the Manhattan office. Berman, however, insisted he had no intention of resigning until the Senate confirms a nominee, setting off a highly public fight over control of the pivotal office.
Trump later fired Berman at Barr’s urging, although the president seemed to distance himself from the issue. “I’m not involved,” Trump told reporters.
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Before his removal, Berman referred to ongoing investigations within his office and his desire to advance them “without delay or interruption.” He did not elaborate on specific probes, but his ouster came just days after former Trump national security adviser John Bolton revealed in a book that the president once sought to interfere in an investigation of a Turkish bank to pacify Turkey’s president, Recep Erdogan.
Berman’s former office is also investigating Trump’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and two former Giuliani business associates.
The Justice Dept. announced the resignation of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of N.Y. Geoffrey Berman. But he says he has no plans of resigning.
Trump intends to nominate Jay Clayton, the Securities and Exchange Commission chairman who has no experience as a federal prosecutor, to replace Berman.
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But Clayton’s nomination appeared to be already in peril. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee had signaled he would not move forward with the nomination without sign off from New York’s two senators – both of whom have called for Clayton to remove his name from consideration.
Barr had initially announced that Craig Carpenito, New Jersey’s chief federal prosecutor, will take Berman’s place until a nominee is confirmed. But Barr later backtracked, announcing that Berman’s top deputy, Audrey Strauss, will be temporarily in charge.
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