Geoffrey Berman

Originally posted on June 20, 2020

Berman is the chief prosecutor of the SDNY branch of the Justice department. That office, and Berman, are noted for their independence from political masters. In the current environment, that translates to Berman sometimes pursuing the illegal actions of Trump associates. Michael Flynn and Rudy Giuliani come immediately to mind.

Needless to say, Trump can’t abide such disloyalty. After all, it is HIS justice department, right? Yesterday, Friday the 19th, Trump’s henchman, William Barr, the Attorney General, announced that Berman was resigning his post. Apparently Berman had no intention of resigning anything, so Trump fired him the following day, today, Saturday. Trump subsequently has said that he had no part in this, but that disavowal doesn’t jibe with Barr’s letter that fired Berman.

An interesting sidelight to this involves John Bolton’s book, where Bolton wrote that Mr. Trump in 2018 had promised the Turkish president, Mr. Erdogan, that he would interfere in an ongoing investigation against a Turkish company accused of violating Iranian sanctions.

“Trump then told Erdogan he would take care of things, explaining that the Southern District prosecutors were not his people, but were Obama people, a problem that would be fixed when they were replaced by his people,” Mr. Bolton wrote.

At the time, Mr. Berman was the U.S. attorney overseeing the case. The company, Halkbank, a state-owned bank in Turkey, was indicted in the Southern District last year.

Jay Clayton, a Trump loyalist, chairman of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and never a prosecutor, has been named by Trump to replace Berman.

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