Berman Resigns, Ending His Turbulent Standoff With Barr

Geoffrey Berman, U.S. attorney for the Southern District of New York, speaks at a news conference on March 25, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)
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June 20, 2020 7:03 p.m.

U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York Geoffrey Berman announced his resignation on Saturday evening “effective immediately,” putting an end to his 24-hour stalemate with Attorney General Bill Barr.

Berman said in a statement that he was leaving “in light of Attorney General Barr’s decision to respect the normal operation of law” by replacing him with Deputy U.S. Attorney Audrey Strauss.

“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,” he said.

The prosecutor, whose office is currently investigating Trump lawyer Rudy Giuliani, expressed confidence in Strauss’ ability to maintain the SDNY’s “enduring tradition of integrity and independence.”

Berman’s resignation concludes the dramatic standoff between him and Barr that began with the attorney general suddenly announcing on Friday night that Berman was stepping down, only for the U.S. attorney to smack down Barr’s announcement several hours later and declare that he had “no intention” of resigning and that the SDNY’s investigations “will move forward without delay or interruption.”

A furious Barr sent Berman a letter the next day accusing the U.S. attorney of choosing “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,” the attorney general told Berman.

But shortly after Barr had sent the missive, President Donald Trump denied having any involvement in Berman’s ouster and dumped the entire disaster on his attorney general.

“That’s really up to him,” Trump told reporters. “I’m not involved.”

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