U.S. Attorney Geoffrey Berman Will Leave Office After Public Stand-Off With Barr

DETROIT, MI - DECEMBER 18: U.S. Attorney General William Barr announces a new Crime Reduction Initiative designed to reduce crime in Detroit on December 18, 2019 in Detroit, Michigan.
Geoffrey Berman, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, has announced he will leave his position after a public dispute with Attorney General William Barr, who originally said Berman was stepping down but later told him he had been fired.
“In light of Attorney General William Barr’s decision to respect the normal operation of law and have Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss become acting U.S Attorney, I will be leaving the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York, effective immediately,” said Berman on Saturday evening.
Berman’s public acknowledgment that he was leaving the office comes after Barr told him the president was firing him, a move that Barr said would result in Strauss taking over the office. When Barr originally said Berman was stepping down, he indicated that Craig Carpenito, the U.S. Attorney for the District of New Jersey, would replace Berman in the interim, not Strauss.
Berman, who was appointed by the judiciary after the Senate failed to take up his nomination, denied Barr’s original account that he had agreed to resign, and insisted that he would stay at the office until “a presidentially appointed nominee is confirmed by the Senate.” According to The Washington Post, Berman was still reporting to work as of Saturday morning, and reportedly told journalists that he was “just here to do my job.”
After Berman issued his defiant Friday-night response, Barr informed him he had been fired: “Unfortunately, with your statement of last night, you have chosen public spectacle over public service. Because you have declared that you have no intention of resigning, I have asked the president to remove you as of today, and he has done so.”
President Donald Trump later denied that he had any role in Berman’s termination, saying that it was a decision made by the attorney general and that he was “not involved.”
As The New York Times originally reported, Berman’s stand-off with Barr “raised complicated constitutional and legal questions because of the highly unusual way that Mr. Berman received his job.”
The Associated Press reports that a district-court appointed U.S. attorney can serve “until the vacancy is filled.”
He challenged Barr’s power to remove, given that Berman was appointed by federal judges, not by the president, and the White House never formally nominated him. Under federal law, a U.S. attorney who is appointed by district court judges can serve “until the vacancy is filled.”
But the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel argued in a 1979 opinion that the “power to remove a court-appointed U.S. attorney rests with the president.” It says, “The president is responsible for the conduct of a U.S. Attorney’s office and therefore must have the power to remove one he believes is an unsuitable incumbent, regardless of who appointed him.”

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.