This was originally published in The Atlantic, and was written by Checks & Balances member Paul Rosenzweig.
Why Bill Barr Got Rid of Geoffrey Berman
Late Friday evening, Attorney General Bill Barr claimed that the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York had resigned, and announced his replacement on an interim basis by the current U.S. attorney for New Jersey—a man who served as Chris Christie’s defense attorney in the Bridgegate scandal and who seems ill-equipped to handle the Manhattan caseload.
That was a lie. A few hours later, the SDNY attorney, Geoffrey Berman, issued a public statement saying that he had not resigned, had no intention of doing so, and was staying on the job. Then, Saturday, Barr sent Berman a letter telling him that Barr had asked President Donald Trump to fire Berman—and that Trump had done so. That letter, too, may have been a lie. Shortly after it was published, Trump said that he was “not involved” in the Berman firing and that it was up to Barr. In something of a bind, Barr is allowing the SDNY deputy, an experienced prosecutor, to step into Berman’s role until the Senate can confirm a permanent replacement; Trump intends to nominate Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
One supposes that, eventually, Barr and Trump will get their stories straightened out. And Berman has now left, so the main goal has been achieved.