The U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York is in a fight with the Justice Department over his job.
Geoffrey Berman has overseen prosecutions of associates of President Trump, including Trump’s former personal attorney, Michael Cohen. He also brought the grand jury indictment against associates of the president’s current personal attorney, Rudolf Giuliani.
Attorney General William Barr, in a statement released late Friday night, said that Berman is “stepping down” and the president is nominating Jay Clayton, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to succeed Berman.
A short time later, Geoffrey Berman fired off his own announcement, denying Barr’s statement.
“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. 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.”
While Berman is pushing back against leaving his post, Attorney General Barr’s press release indicated that President Trump has already appointed an interim replacement for Berman. Barr said that effective July 3rd, Craig Carpenito, the current US Attorney for the District of New Jersey, would take over until Clayton is confirmed.
Barr thanked Berman for his service, adding, “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.”
Under Berman’s watch, his office brought the prosecution of multimillionaire Jeffrey Epstein on federal sex trafficking charges. Berman later charged two corrections officers who were supposed to guard Epstein with dereliction of their duties after Epstein’s apparent suicide in his cell at the Metropolitan Correctional Center.
Berman’s team also aggressively investigated and prosecuted Trump’s former personal attorney and fixer, Michael Cohen. Cohen ultimately pleaded guilty to financial crimes, lying to Congress and campaign finance crimes.
Under oath, Cohen implicated Trump in payments made to two women ahead of the 2016 elections to keep them quiet about affairs they said they had with Trump.
Berman issued a grand jury indictment against Lev Parnas and Igor Fruman, two men associated with Rudy Giuliani. The two have pleaded “not guilty” to setting up a shell company to hide the foreign sourcing of a $325,000 donation to a superPAC committed to President Trump’s reelection. The two also allegedly helped Giuliani in efforts to dig up dirt on former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter in Ukraine.
And Berman’s office has investigated the business dealings of Giuliani himself, but no charges have been brought against him.