After nine updates to my previous post, I don’t want this to get lost in the mix. Geoff Berman has won this fight.
Here is AG Barr’s announcement last night:
Attorney General William P. Barr has released the following statement:
“I am pleased to announce that President Trump intends to nominate Jay Clayton, currently the Chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, to serve as the next United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. For the past three years, Jay has been an extraordinarily successful SEC Chairman, overseeing efforts to modernize regulation of the capital markets, protect Main Street investors, enhance American competitiveness, and address challenges ranging from cybersecurity issues to the COVID-19 pandemic. His management experience and expertise in financial regulation give him an ideal background to lead the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York, and he will be a worthy successor to the many historic figures who have held that post. On behalf of the President, I thank Jay for accepting this nomination, and I look forward to working with him soon.
On my recommendation, the President has appointed Craig Carpenito, currently the United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey, to serve as the Acting United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, while the Senate is considering Jay Clayton’s nomination. This appointment will be effective July 3, and Craig will work closely with the outgoing United States Attorney to ensure a smooth transition. I thank Craig for his continued service and for taking on this important interim responsibility.
Finally, I thank Geoffrey Berman, who is stepping down after two-and-a-half years of service as United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. With tenacity and savvy, Geoff has done an excellent job leading one of our nation’s most significant U.S. Attorney’s Offices, achieving many successes on consequential civil and criminal matters. I appreciate his service to the Department of Justice and our nation, and I wish him well in the future.”
Here is AG Barr’s letter today to Berman:
NOW: AG Barr says in a letter to Manhattan US Attorney Geoffrey Berman that Trump has now officially fired him, and that's that, rejecting any argument by Berman that a judicial appointment means he can't be removed.
— Zoe Tillman (@ZoeTillman) June 20, 2020
Note especially this passage:
By operation of law, the Deputy United States Attorney, Audrey Strauss, will become the Acting United States Attorney, and I anticipate that she will serve in that capacity until a permanent successor is in place.
Barr blinked, and Berman’s statement makes it very clear that this shift in the identity of his successor was the reason he agreed to step down.
In light of Attorney General 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. It has been the honor of a lifetime to serve as this District’s U.S. Attorney and a custodian of its proud legacy, but I could leave the District in no better hands than Audrey’s. She is the smartest, most principled, and effective lawyer with whom I have ever had the privilege of working. And I know that under her leadership, this Office’s unparalleled AUSAs, investigators, paralegals, and staff will continue to safeguard the Southern District’s enduring tradition of integrity and independence.
Audrey Strauss is not going to squash the investigations into Trump cronies.
/2 …in SDNY. And now she’s acting US Attorney until confirmation of a new appointee.
So. Either that means that the attempt to replace Berman was innocent and not intended to derail investigations … or the attempt was abjectly, historically blundered by second-rate idiots.
— MassacresAreTrickyHat (@Popehat) June 20, 2020
It’s this simple:
Berman refused to leave when his replacement was going to be political appointee Craig Carpenito. He agreed to leave when Barr said Strauss would get the position. That’s why Berman agreed to step down. Period.
PSA: If anyone is telling you that Berman was always going to step down, because he knew he had no choice, they’re lying to you or they don’t understand what happened. Such people have to explain why Barr blinked on the issue of who would succeed Berman. And they can’t. If you care about the truth, you should not listen to such hacks. (PSA ends.)