• The Financial District


Geoffrey Berman, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York (SDNY), is stepping down, Attorney General William Barr announced late Friday (Saturday in Manila), apparently after being pressured by the White House to quit his job, Sonam Sheth wrote for the Business Insider on June 20, 2020.

SDNY is conducting multiple investigations into Trump associates including his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, and other entities believed to have profited from Trump’s abuse of power. Under Berman's leadership, the SDNY also indicted Turkey's Halkbank even though Barr and Trump both reportedly tried to intervene to stop the case from moving forward.

HuffPost also reported that Berman's "departure was not at all expected," and ABC News characterized it as a firing, adding that Barr offered Berman other jobs at the Department of Justice (DOJ), but Berman declined. Kaitlan Collins of CNN also reported that Berman was "forced out" of his job and that Barr asked him to resign but Berman refused to do so. Berman is investigating Turkey’s Halkbank for fraud and John Bolton claimed in his book “The Room Where It Happened” that Trump promised Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan that he would kill the inquiry but Berman refused.

Trump will nominate Jay Clayton, the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), to replace Berman, Barr said. He added that while the Senate considers Clayton's nomination, Trump has appointed Craig Carpenito, the US attorney for the District of New Jersey, to serve as acting US attorney for the SDNY. Berman's abrupt resignation will likely draw scrutiny amid Trump's ongoing efforts to tighten his grip on the Justice Department. The SDNY, in particular, is conducting multiple investigations into Trump associates including his personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani. The office also successfully prosecuted Trump's longtime former lawyer, Michael Cohen. Berman served as the US attorney for SDNY for two and a half years. He took over the position from Preet Bharara, whom Trump fired in 2017.