US attorney Geoffrey Berman refusing to leave after being fired by Trump administration
A political stand-off is developing in the US where a top federal prosecutor who has been investigating several of the President’s allies has refused to leave just hours after the Trump administration abruptly said it was replacing him.
- Mr Berman says his office’s investigations will move on without delay
- Mr Berman was appointed in January 2018 after the former US attorney was fired
- Geoffrey Berman has led investigations into some of Donald Trump’s close allies
“I learned in a press release from the Attorney-General tonight that I was ‘stepping down’ as United States Attorney,” Geoffrey Berman said in a statement.
“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.”
The statement has set up a dramatic confrontation within the Justice Department over the high-profile position in a year when President Donald Trump is seeking re-election.
Mr Berman said that until a presidentially appointed nominee was confirmed by the Senate, the office’s investigations would “move forward without delay or interruption”.
His statement came just hours after Attorney-General William Barr, in a surprise move, said Mr Trump intended to nominate Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC chairman Jay Clayton to replace Mr Berman.
Since being appointed to the post in January 2018, Mr Berman has not shied from taking on powerful figures in Mr Trump’s orbit.
He oversaw the prosecution of Mr Trump’s former personal lawyer Michael Cohen, indicted two associates of Mr Trump’s current personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani, and launched a probe into Mr Giuliani in connection with his efforts to dig up dirt in Ukraine on Mr Trump’s political adversaries.
While the Senate considers Mr Clayton’s nomination, Mr Trump has appointed Craig Carpenito, currently the US attorney for the District of New Jersey, to serve as the acting US attorney for the Southern District, Mr Barr said in his statement.
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Mr Berman had replaced Preet Bharara, who was himself fired soon after Mr Trump became President.
Mr Bharara said the timing and manner of the move to replace Mr Berman was strange.