Over 100 former Manhattan prosecutors in a Sunday letter have condemned President Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr’s decision to fire former US Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Geoffrey Berman.
According to The Hill, at least 135 US attorneys and assistant US attorneys wrote that they “deplored” the action and described it as being “without cause”, in an open letter obtained by the Corporate Crime Reporter.
“The actions of the President and the Attorney General are an attack on the concept that investigations should be conducted in a nonpartisan manner,” the former prosecutors wrote.
They accused the president and the attorney general of “politicising an office” that has remained apolitical for over 200 years and of “undermining confidence” in the US criminal justice system.
“We call on our elected officials – Republicans and Democrats alike – to take all appropriate action to protect the administration of justice in the Southern District of New York and elsewhere from this kind of political interference,” the letter read.
Berman’s office is currently investigating Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani over allegations that the latter breached foreign lobbying laws in his dealings with Ukraine.
The former US attorney also prosecuted the president’s former lawyer, Michael Cohen, for election finance fraud and for lying to a Senate Committee.
A number of Democrats have accused Trump of trying to politicise the Justice Department.
US Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a statement that there were “base and improper motives” for firing Berman and that Barr “must be held accountable for his actions.”
The President and his cronies have chosen to protect Trump’s personal & political interests over those of the American people by interfering in numerous criminal investigations involving the President & his associates. https://t.co/zuWcYtSrDg— Nancy Pelosi (@SpeakerPelosi) June 20, 2020
Representative Bill Pascrell accused Barr of trying to protect Trump and his associates from being investigated.
🚨 This is a bombshell. Was the attempted stealth removal of the US Attorney done by AG barr to protect donald trump or his associates from investigation or prosecution? We need to find out.https://t.co/mIY2q6dU11 https://t.co/4HSCnkK8DU— Bill Pascrell, Jr. (@BillPascrell) June 20, 2020
Representative Jerrold Nadler has called on Berman to testify at an upcoming hearing.
America is right to expect the worst of Bill Barr, who has repeatedly interfered in criminal investigations on Trump’s behalf. We have a hearing on this topic on Wednesday. We welcome Mr. Berman’s testimony and will invite him to testify. https://t.co/SpVYzLhANR— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) June 20, 2020
Berman said on Friday that he had learned that he was “stepping down” from his position in a press release written by Barr, but at first refused to quit, saying, "I have not resigned, and have no intention of resigning, my position.”
Barr had written that the president intended to nominate Securities and Exchange Commission chairman Jay Clayton to replace Berman.
On Saturday, Barr told Berman that he had asked Trump to fire him and that Trump had agreed to perform the act. Afterward, Berman released a statement saying that he would "respect the normal operation of law" and step down.
"In light of Attorney General Barr's decision to respect the normal operation of law and have Deputy US Attorney Audrey Strauss become Acting US Attorney, I will be leaving the US Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, effective immediately", the statement said.
According to the BBC, Trump states that he is “not involved” in Berman's firing.