House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) announced Saturday that his panel will launch an investigation into the firing of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman.
Nadler said in a statement:
The House Judiciary Committee will immediately open an investigation into this incident, as part of our broader investigation into Barr’s unacceptable politicization of the Department of Justice. On Wednesday, the Committee will hear from two whistleblowers who will explain why Barr’s attempt to fire Mr. Berman is part of a larger, ongoing, and wholly unacceptable pattern of conduct. If the President removes Mr. Berman, then we will take additional steps to secure his testimony as well.
— Phil Mattingly (@Phil_Mattingly) June 20, 2020
On Friday, the Department of Justice announced that Berman was resigning as Manhattan’s top prosecutor. Shortly thereafter, Berman issued a statement saying he had no intention of leaving his post.
On Saturday morning, Berman showed up to work and told reporters: “I’m just here to do my job.”
Hours later, Attorney General William Barr wrote a letter to Berman revealing that President Donald Trump had fired him at his request.
“Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service,” Barr told Berman.
“Your statement also wrongly implies that your continued tenure in the office is necessary to ensure that cases now pending in the Southern District of New York are handled appropriately,” the attorney general added. “This is obviously false.”
Although Barr said President Trump had removed Berman, the president told reporters: “That’s all up to the attorney general. Attorney General Barr is working on that. That’s his department, not my department.” Trump added: “I wasn’t involved.”
Barr offered no explanation for his action. The White House announced that Trump was nominating Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Jay Clayton, a well-connected Wall Street lawyer with virtually no experience as a federal prosecutor, for the job.
Berman initially planned to remain in his job until a replacement was confirmed, but he changed his mind late Saturday after Barr said he would allow Berman’s second in command, Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss, to become acting U.S. attorney.
Berman said that led him to announce he would be leaving, “effective immediately.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.