President Trump fired the United States Attorney in Manhattan, Geoffrey S. Berman, on Saturday after Attorney General William P. Barr requested he does so. The move crowns months of bickering between Berman and the Justice Department and alleged questionable decisions made by Berman throughout multiple investigations he engineered.
The New York Times, who strongly opposes Trump, reported, Barr thought Berman would immediately voluntarily step down. When this did not occur, Barr wrote to Berman, stating, “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,” the letter read. Mr. Barr said Mr. Berman’s top deputy, Audrey Strauss, would become the acting United States Attorney.
The President can fire U.S. Attorneys, although the Times seemed to question whether this is true. It is. Berman has since stepped down. The decision to replace Berman with Strauss apparently appeased him.
In a letter released by the Justice Department, “Attorney General William P. Barr accused Mr. Berman of choosing “public spectacle over public service” because he would not voluntarily step down from the position,” the Times said.
Berman’s firing was not unusual or unexpected. The relationship between the Southern District and the Justice Department have always been tense—it is a political thing.
Given Berman’s attitude and demeanor, we think the President should have fired him a long time ago. Some hatchets seemingly cannot be buried. Critics will say that such moves threaten a prosecutor’s independence, but independence does not mandate rebellion or the pursuit of personal agendas, some say. We expect the same clown act from Democrats as they “investigate” the firing. We think Berman traveled to the beat of a different drum and rapidly became an ineffective minister of justice for the public.